Covid-19: All you need to know about global QR code proposed by China

Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates in the form of “internationally accepted QR codes.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the health certificates will be based on ‘nucleic acid test results’.(REUTERS)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the health certificates will be based on ‘nucleic acid test results’.(REUTERS)
Published on Nov 23, 2020 09:55 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | | Edited by Kunal Gaurav

Chinese President Xi Jinping is pushing for a Covid-19 tracking system by using QR codes, as a part of “global mechanism” to ease international travel during the coronavirus disease pandemic. During a virtual G20 summit on Saturday, Xi stressed the need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.

He proposed a mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates in the form of “internationally accepted QR codes”. “We need to further harmonise policies and standards and establish fast tracks to facilitate the orderly flow of personnel,” Xi said at the summit.

The Chinese president said that the health certificates will be based on “nucleic acid test results” and expressed hope that more countries will join the mechanism, without further elaborating on the proposal.

Also Read | China says it has eliminated poverty from last nine poorest counties

What is Covid-19 QR code?

Earlier this year, China reportedly mandated the widespread use of QR-based health certificates which stores the travel and health history of an individual. The system has been credited with helping contain the virus in the country, the first epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Chinese government issues colour codes based on the big data on health information submitted by the users. While the green colour code allows users to travel freely, an orange or red code suggests that they need to quarantine for up to two weeks.

Several countries have used contact tracing apps to monitor and curb the spread of Covid-19. In April, a study by Oxford University found that even if approximately 60 per cent of the population used a contract tracing app, it would have significantly reduced the number of coronavirus cases and related deaths.

However, there have been concerns regarding privacy, and executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, cautioned against Xi’s proposal for a global QR code system. “An initial focus on health could easily become a Trojan Horse for broader political monitoring and exclusion, akin to the dangers associated with China’s social-credit system,” tweeted Roth.

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