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Vietnam Plans to Use GPS-Enabled Wristbands to Track Quarantined Patients

Image credit: Ministry of Information and Communications

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) wants people to wear a tracking wristband during and after their concentrated quarantine period. The bracelet has been developed by Vietnamese enterprises using GPS (global positioning system) technology to record users’ locations. It has a 30-day battery and can send an alert if people leave quarantine areas. The estimated production cost is US$35. Temperature monitoring and usage status are the two main functions of the bracelet.

According to a press release, it can also discover close contacts using Bluetooth technology. It has the same operating mechanism as tracing applications. It monitors whether a quarantined individual is complying with regulations based on GPS technology. Experts note that depending on the pandemic control strategy applied, one of these two technologies (or both in some cases) is used. Singapore, for example, has been using a device to discover close contacts and a device to support quarantine supervision.

Hong Kong has decided to attach electronic bracelets to all travellers entering the special administrative region for medical supervision during a two-week quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The bracelet is connected with a smartphone app used to control quarantine at home.

MIC believes that deploying foreign technology could lead to problems in mastering and customising the solutions to Vietnamese conditions. Moreover, Vietnam would depend on the production capacity of partners, which would affect Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention and control plan. MIC further added that enterprises can organise production quickly, and data would be stored in the country. If the bracelet plan is approved, enterprises just need four weeks to research, customise products to fit the requirements, and organise mass production.

Do Cong Anh from the Authority of Information Technology Application (AITA) noted that MIC proposed the idea to the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. AITA said the agency has worked with technology transport firms on a mechanism for information sharing. If the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control sends telephone numbers that need to be traced, the firms will send results about the departure and destinations of the owners.

The agency is also working with the firms on a mechanism to help bring people from concentrated quarantine areas to their places of residence. The apps for medical declarations have been an effective tool to prevent and control COVID-19. However, some people do not have smartphones. Many people are required to make declarations when they check-in at new destinations, and some people do not know where to submit them. As a result, many people do not complete their health declarations.

At an online conference of the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control with the Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, the committee stressed the importance of medical declarations from people who have relations with people living in COVID-19 epicentres, people going to hospitals, and flying on planes. Medical declarations are being used throughout the country but are being applied in inconsistent ways, Anh stated. He said that because many people do not make medical declarations via apps but instead call government departments to make declarations, AITA has set up a hotline in charge of receiving declarations. Also, VNPT set up a free hotline where people can receive guidance to choose appropriate declaration forms. AITA has added a declaration code that will require people to update their status within 24 hours. If they do not, they will be discovered when going through security check.

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