‘Thailand Wins’ tracking app collects data but yet unable to issue alerts

QR code for Thailand wins app is the new pandemic. Image: @aeyzier / Twitter
QR code for Thailand wins app is the new pandemic. Image: @aeyzier / Twitter

Three new COVID-19 cases are a reminder that the virus is still being transmitted and, according to the public face of the pandemic response, underscore the need for a government tracking program – that does not yet fully work.

Two Bangkok residents and a traveler recently back from the Philippines have been diagnosed with COVID-19, COVID-19 task force spokesman Taweeslip Wisanuyothin said today, conceding that the Thailand Wins app is only capable of tracking people for now. 

A 72-year-old man was likely infected at a hospital or barbershop on Pracha Chuen Road, and a 42-year-old German was exposed at a shopping mall in Chaiyaphum province earlier this month while visiting his wife’s family. The third case was found in a government quarantine facility southeast of the capital in Chonburi province. There, a 25-year-old language student in isolation after returning from the Philippines tested positive.

Taweeslip said the cases emphasized the importance the app, which he said would eventually be able to alert users by SMS if they have been to venues visited by those infected. 

“It’s hard to trace back which barber in Pracha Chuen the confirmed patient today actually went to as it had happened before we started using Thailand Wins,” he said.

The app, which has raised red flags testing the balance between public health and privacy expectations, has only been collecting data since it launched Sunday.

Asked about the raft of privacy concerns coming in a political climate of distrust, such as possible data tracing of bank account information, the spokesman was unequivocal.

“All the information is for disease control only,” he said.

As for why department stores and malls were allowed to reopen before schools, he said they can more easily be managed while schools are known for spreading the seasonal flu every year, and children risk taking any illness home to elderly and vulnerable members of their families.

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