China has created and launched a mobile app that allows people to check whether they have been at risk of catching the coronavirus by being in close proximity to infected persons.
The ‘close contact detector’ app was created by China’s National Health Commission (NHC), General Office of the State Council and the China Electronics Technology Group Corporations (CETC), using health and transport data.
Users can find out if they are at risk by scanning a quick response (QR) code using apps like payment service Alipay or social media platform WeChat. They then need to register the app with their phone number by entering their name and ID numbers.
The government has advised those who have come in close contact with infected people to self-quarantine by staying home for 14 days and getting in touch with local authorities.
Examples of close contact with an infected person include people who work together in confined spaces such as an office or live in the same house, commuters in air-conditioned spaces or passengers on trains sharing the same compartment.
The deaths brought on by the coronavirus recorded its highest so far on February 11, with 108 dead in China in one day. The death toll in China currently stands at 1,016, with cases reported in the United States, Thailand and Vietnam.
World Bank responds
The World Bank has stated that it would not offer funding to China to help fight the coronavirus.
According to the organization’s president, David Malpass, assistance in technical aspects has been extended to China, but it has not planned for any financial assistance.
“My thought is that we all wish them a speedy way to address the coronavirus in China. We’ve offered technical assistance in the area of health, sanitation and disease policies,” Malpass said.
China has recently dismissed top Hubei province health officials amid claims of mishandling of the outbreak.
China’s anti-corruption body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), said Hubei health commission chief Zhang Jin and director Liu Yingzi were both let go for unspecified reasons.
Speaking to CNN, Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, claims that when it comes to blame regarding how the outbreak was handled, “It was not the Chinese authorities – it was local.”
Analysts claim that the increasingly centralized government system leaves regional authorities powerless.
Many officials have reportedly denied responsibility for the mishandling of the outbreak, with online users referring to it as watching a passing-the-buck competition (‘tossing the wok’ in Chinese.)