China advocates for worldwide QR code use to curb COVID

Known for its authoritarian regime, it’s no surprise Chinese President Xi Jinping is advocating a worldwide track and trace system for COVID-19. The global pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption around the world this year since the start of its international spread back in early 2020. Since then, millions have been affected as cases and subsequent deaths continue to rise in the dreaded second wave predicted by scientists. 

International travel and the airline industry have been some of the most affected areas in our lives and global travel routes have been effectively shut down. As the virus continues to spread and mutate, travellers are continually facing difficulties with cancelled flights and travel bans as other countries desperately try to contain their own outbreaks without fear of further infections. 

President Xi Jinping of China has declared himself as an advocate for a worldwide tracking system of travellers by using QR code technology. He believes this will help fast track international business back to a pre-COVID standard and aid the reintroduction of international travel. 

QR codes are not new technology, long used to direct smart phone uses to online content from real life situations. It is only now with a growing demand for contactless technology and increased desire for track and trace strategies that the old technology is being seen in a new light. 

Early in 2020 part of China’s successful curbing of their outbreak was in part due to the system of QR codes put in place. Each barcode is able to record an individual’s health and travel history, and quickly alert others as to if they are in danger. The codes come in traffic light colours, with green signifying a safe level, amber suggesting potential exposure and red altering to contamination. 

“China has proposed a global mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates based on nucleic acid test results in the form of internationally accepted QR codes. We hope more countries will join this mechanism,” Xi said in a virtual summit with G20 leaders in late December 2020.