By Jacob Mutisi
NOW that it is business as usual, following the announcement that bars and nightclubs will be open and allowing only vaccinated individuals to attend these premises, worldwide Covid-19 is here to stay and the best we can do is to minimise its impact.
To minimise the spread of the deadly virus, it is important that as a nation we limit and ban the movement of infected people and find out if they were in contact with an infected person and religiously track all of them down. In other countries they have Covid-19 law enforcement agents.
It is now the norm that Covid-19 law enforces physical contact tracking and taking containment action.
If Zimbabwe is to follow this kind of containment, it will struggle because it is very expensive and is not easy to manage and causes catastrophic repercussions on Zimbabwe’s ailing economy.
The fact that Covid-19 is a killer makes it a travesty that Zimbabwe does not have an easy access database system for vaccinated people. For example, at Wilkins Hospital they have all their records of vaccinated individuals in big books with recording being done with a pen and paper while no electronic records are done after that.
This causes problems because if one loses his/her vaccination card, he/she has to search through these big files and books to identify their name and the date so that they can be issued with another card.
To reduce infections and to track those who are vaccinated or have been tested, there is a need to create a central database that links all service providers to this single central system.
The best solution is to develop a system that is directly linked to a mobile phone app through a QR code reader. The beauty of this country is that every Zimbabwean currently has access to a mobile phone or a modern-day smartphone and there is a need for the government to make it mandatory for every Zimbabwean to have a smartphone just like the mask. The purpose of this app is to identify vaccinated individuals and to minimise the spread of Covid-19 by storing the recorded data in a central location which can only be accessed through a QR reading app on mobile phones.
The technical features and functionalities are: For every vaccinated person, the system will generate a QR code which will include the name, date of birth, ID number, and address and will be identified by phone number if necessary.
This QR code will also contain personal information such as the user’s Covid-19 infection status, tests conducted and where this person has been, including if he/she has been to an area with high infection rates.
Now that it is mandatory that bars and nightclubs should only allow people that have been vaccinated, every public place such as restaurants, parks, and shops must have a QR scanner that customers can use which should be placed at the entrance just like a temperature checking machine.
Only individuals who are safe are welcome in these institutions. Once this is done, the scanner will record the location and provide personal information that will help to identify the user’s current status (normal, high infection rate area person or infected person). Covid-19 traditional methods of contact tracing are critical to containing the spread of infection. Locally produced technology solutions can support and augment these efforts by allowing public health authorities and the public in general to quickly identify vaccinated individuals and prevent those who have not been vaccinated access to areas where they can either spread or contract the Covid-19 virus.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a problem solver and a solution to some of our national challenges and vaccination tracking is one that can be solved using ICT.
- Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers.