China’s Use of Colour-Coded QR Codes to Control Coronavirus Spread

A passenger shows a green QR code on his phone to a security guard to indicate his health status at Wenzhou railway station in China on February 28. Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
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In China, authorities are using technology to track who is likely to be healthy — and who poses a risk.

Residents are each assigned a colour-coded QR code on their phones — and that colour correlates to what they’re able to do. In Wuhan, even now the lockdown is lifted, residents still need to produce a green QR code to leave their compounds. For those returning to work, they also need to produce a letter from their employer.

To get into places such as restaurants, people need to show that QR code — and only people with a green code will gain entry

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But if your code is yellow or red, it means you’ve been flagged for some reason. If, for instance, you had been on a plane with a person infected with coronavirus, you would be flagged and your code might change colour.

Those with a yellow or red code might be asked to self-isolate — or even have to go into state quarantine.

The whole thing relies on big data and means local governments have a database of people’s travel history, their health history, and whether they’ve been in close contact with anyone who has coronavirus.

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