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Malaysia’s contact tracing app to allow interstate travel applications

Malaysia launched a contact tracing app on 20 April 2020 in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The ‘Gerak Malaysia’ app functions not only to track movements but for authorities to know the location of citizens’ home when passing through a roadblock and for hospitals and clinics to track if you’ve passed through a red zone.

Now, however, the app is getting a new feature.

During a press conference on 22 April, Malaysia’s Defense Minister stated that those who intend to travel through interstates could apply through the app which started 25 April.

The applications began on 25 April. By that time, the team will check on how many people are planning to go back home. Then we can plan and implement rigorous standard operating procedures (SOPs).

It was also noted that this is not a sure guarantee method of interstate travel as authorities would still need a valid reason. The final decision will be announced on 1 May with approval from the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health.

Citizens that don’t have internet access can get their application directly from the police stations. But they should call beforehand to make an appointment to avoid large crowds. When Malaysia first imposed the Movement Control Order on 18 March, large crowds gathered at police stations nationwide to apply for interstate travel, sparking fears for the rise in COVID-19 cases.

According to an earlier article by OpenGov Asia, The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced the release of COVID-19 contact tracing app, Gerak Malaysia.

The app is designed to help the authorities in tracing and analysing users’ movement nationwide to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The reason for the app is given when first launched, with the following notice: “Since COVID-19 can be easily transmitted by being close to infected individuals, thus this movement app will be a valuable tool for the Ministry of Health to protect you and your loved ones.”

The app requires personal details, including the user’s full name, MyKad or passport number, residential address and email. Users also have to permit to track their location at all times via the phone’s GPS.

Gerak Malaysia will generate a unique QR code for the user, which most likely will be used at some point to allow travel, as the Terms and Conditions notes, “To facilitate Users with the authorised travel document during the period of movement control order (MCO).”

The app is still in Beta and doesn’t appear to have other functions at the moment though the Terms and Conditions mention other features, most likely to be released in the future:

  • To allow Users to make any emergency request, including food support and prescription of medication, which shall be subject to terms and conditions as may be determined by the relevant parties involved; and
  • To provide updates on any extended MCO features, news and statistics whenever made available from the relevant authorities.

MCMC also denies any liability for damage or loss due to the app, and that medical treatment shall not be delivered through the app but only through an authorised medical entity.

It stated that the personal data is only intended to be used up to six months after the expiry of the MCO, and any commercial use is strictly prohibited.

The app is solely owned by MCMC on behalf of the government and has assured people that it is committed to protecting users’ data.

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