September 28, 2020

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Selangor State Government Task Force for COVID-19 complements efforts at federal level

The Selangor government set up a task force to monitor, oversee and educate the public on the transmission of Covid-19 in the Malaysian state back in March 2020.

The task force is led by former Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and assisted by four professional individuals who had previously worked with him at the ministry, as well as representatives from the Selangor Health Department.

Analytical platforms using Big Data Analytics and Machine Intelligence have been set up by the Selangor state government to assist its state Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC) in battling the coronavirus outbreak.

STFC chairman and former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the introduction of the advanced computerised systems is to allow his task force to offer more informed recommendations and evidence-based advice to the Chief Minister when undertaking local interventional measures in handling the outbreak.

“As a guide to the Selangor Chief Minister who directs the state machinery in undertaking localised interventional measures, STFC is determined to put forward all recommendations and necessary actions in line with scientific proof and the latest information.

“To achieve this purpose, an analytical platform compatible with Big Data Analytics and Machine Intelligence has been developed so that STFC’s recommendations can be backed up by the latest scientific research, which is ever changing during the period of this epidemic.”

He explained the use of Big Data and Machine Learning would then allow the state to conduct communal screenings and contact tracing in a more efficient and organised manner.

Successfully Using Tech at a Local Level to Fight COVID-19

In a recent Health Summit online panel Dr Helmi, Head of the Digital Epidemiology and Data Analytics portfolio in the Selangor Task Force for COVID-19, spoke of how the team delivered two solutions, the population and location risk-ranking analytics platform for COVID-19 and a digital contact tracing initiative leveraging on QR technology.

The team created a QR code for digital contact tracing that does not require sharing of personal data. The telephone number is the only data captured, which is found to be highly acceptable by users. Each shop and premises are given unique QR codes, which visitors scan when entering.

Out of Selangor state’s 6.2 million population, an impressive 5.9 million or about 95% used the codes. If an establishment is linked to a COVID-19 case, all the visitors can be traced and contacted, and slow the transmission.

As of now, store visits totalled some 30 million, but the team has managed to detect 225 patients and 1,075 contacts.

State Government Efforts to Complement Efforts at Federal Level

Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad has said the intelligence gathered by the STFC would ultimately be meant to work in tandem to complement the ongoing efforts being taken at the federal level.

“By supplying a little expertise and experience from the members of STFC, we are committed to raising the ability of the state of Selangor, and among others, submit recommendations to the State Health Department to contain the outbreak of the SARS CoV-2 virus, as well as reducing the number of Covid-19 patients in Selangor.

“The state government acts within the framework of complementing the efforts of the Health Ministry, who are the Custodians of Health for the entire Malaysia,” Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

Since Selangor is the most populous state in Malaysia and a technology front-runner, its success has paved the way for the rest of the country. The QR approach was replicated by the federal government and then nationwide. The team’s area profiling and risk app enabled active detection, which has also been adopted throughout Malaysia.