Guangdong’s provincial government is testing an add-on WeChat pilot feature to allow some Hongkongers to obtain a health code to cross the border into mainland China. Covid-19 negative test results and personal data may be uploaded to the programme, which was launched on Sunday.
Currently, only individuals from specific categories – such as government officials, cross-border truck drivers, and those with manufacturing businesses in the mainland – can cross the border without undergoing mandatory quarantine and a virus test. The Hong Kong government has been in negotiations with the mainland to ease travel restrictions through a universal health code system.
The mini-app “Yue Sheng Shi ” can be installed in WeChat. It includes new options including “Guangdong to Hong Kong (testing)” and “Hong Kong to Guangdong (testing),” under a new page called “Guangdong to Hong Kong border crossing (testing),” HK01 reported.
“Yue Sheng Shi” is a Guangdong government mobile application that allows residents to carry out interactions with the authorities, such as paying for traffic tickets, scheduling government appointments, or renewing passports and visas.
Within the new options, users can select one of three declaration categories, such as the “Hong Kong individuals entry daily health declaration” or “cross-border truck drivers entry declaration.”
Under the first option, the user can upload a virus test report and enter their personal information, including their travel document and phone numbers. They can then obtain a “Hong Kong health code” – a QR code that may be converted to a mainland health QR code and presented at the border.
Since September, Macau residents have been able to travel to the mainland, without completing quarantine, using a health QR code scheme. Residents can obtain a QR code that allows them to enter the mainland via Zhuhai upon presentation of a negative virus test result which was obtained no more than seven days earlier. Up to mid-October, over 18 million travellers crossed borders under the scheme, Wen Wei Po reported.
Mainland authorities have been considering implementing a similar health code scheme for Hongkongers if the city records fewer than ten locally transmitted Covid-19 cases for 14 consecutive days. Hong Kong must also be able to present a thorough system for tracing the epidemiological origin of each infection, Sing Tao Daily reported on Sunday, citing a source close to mainland officials.
The proposed health code system has been criticised by medical professionals and pro-democracy activists who expressed concern that the system may be used as government surveillance and pose ethical challenges.
In total, Hong Kong has seen 5,374 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 107 deaths.