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Apr 19, 2020 / 12:50

Vietnam launches first ever contact-tracing app to curb Covid-19

The contact- tracing app, along with the remote health check-up platform, could be an ignition for the digital transformation process of the health sector, said PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Vietnam is not the first country to launch a contact-tracing app, but it solves all issues of other similar apps, said Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung. 

 Overview of the meeting. Source: VGP. 

Bluezone, developed by Vietnam’s leading cyber security firm BKAV, was launched on April 18 at an event held by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).

The app uses the Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology to identify smartphone users who have come into close contact with Covid-19 patients.

Among measures to contain the pandemic, tracing sources of transmission would come in handy to identify people thought to have caught Covid-19, as well as those they may have passed the disease on to.

However, not everyone can remember exactly where and whom they have contacted with while limited resources also add to the trouble in tracing all contacts of each infection case.

To solve this issue, smartphones with the Bluezone app can recognize each other within a two-meter distance and record the time and date of such contacts.

 Detailed explanation of how Bluezone works (in Vietnamese). Source: BKAV. 

Once a new infection is found, the health authorities would insert the data into the Bluezone system, which in turn sends data to other smartphones with Bluezone installed. If there is a risk of transmission, the app would send out a warning to users and instruct them to contact the authorities.

BKAV’s CEO Nguyen Tu Quang said Bluezone operates on the basis of transparency, privacy and anonymous. All data is encrypted and stored on users’ smartphones, instead of the system, Quang stressed.

Minister Hung said the app is a breakthrough technology in the fight against the pandemic, and ensures full privacy of users, while only those at high risks of infection are warned.

Moreover, Bluezone is a free and open-source app so that all countries can use it and share data.

With the support of the Ministry of Health and MIC, Hung encourages the public to use the app to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

According to Hung, the Covid-19 pandemic present opportunities for Vietnam to accelerate the digital transformation process and the development of digital firms.

Hung called on Vietnam’s IT community to grasp this chance and help Vietnam become one of the most advanced digital countries.

Echoing Hung’s view, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Bluezone is a new tool to help people protect themselves and the community. The app, along with the remote health check-up platform launched on the same day, could be an ignition for the digital transformation process of the health sector, and eventually towards a digital country.