Hong Kong local COVID-19 tracking app “LeaveHomeSafe” is available from Nov 16

After a long discussion on the Health QR Code in Hong Kong, Alfred Sit Wing-hang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, announced at the press conference that a COVID-19 tracking mobile app, named “LeaveHomeSafe” (安心出行), would be available for the public to download from November 16th, 2020.

“LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app aims to encourage the public to record their journeys, minimize further transmission of the virus, and enhance citizens’ awareness of self-protection and alertness. More than 6,000 public and private venues support the“LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app in Hong Kong. Users can also use the app directly in over 18,000 taxis.

Homepage of App (Source from Government website: http://www.leavehomesafe.gov.hk/)

It is designed based on voluntary participation. Citizens are free to choose whether or not to use the app. Once downloaded, users can start to use the app directly without registration. The app will record the time and venue of the journey. For example, when visiting a venue or taking a taxi that supports the “LeaveHomeSafe” app, users can use the app to scan the displayed QR code at the venue or the code inside the taxi. Click the “Leave” button when leaving the venue or getting off from the taxi.

The government emphasized that the app will not use the positioning system to get the user’s personal data from the mobile phone, and does not require any information about the user’s name, ID number, etc., in consideration of privacy.

“There’s no central system to record all the data. For all the data contained in the telephone, it will be erased automatically in 31 days,” said Mr. Alfred Sit on November 15th after attending a radio program.

Another function of the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app is COVID-19 exposure alert. If a user went to the same venue at around the same time with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, the user would receive the app’s notification. The notification contains information about exposure and health advice.

In March, the similar system of Health QR Code was widely implemented in Mainland China. It uses three colors, green, yellow (orange in some provinces), and red, to divide the individual’s risk levels of exposure to COVID-19. Green refers to non-risk while red refers to high-risk. The code color will change dynamically according to the user’s situation to trace and check the personal status.

Unlike the “LeaveHomeSafe” app, the individual is required to scan the QR code on the spot and present the green Health QR Code to take public transportation, enter shopping malls or other public venues, and to attend mass gatherings in Mainland China. Also, the Health QR Code requires the user’s real-name authentication. Different QR codes in different provinces use a shared database to store the user data, enabling recognition across areas.

Green Health QR Code in Shanghai (Photo from Shanghai Government official website)

The “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app is available on App Store, Google Play and Huawei AppGallery. For further information, please refer to the official website.

(Feature Image from news.gov.hk)

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