The Health Minister during the COVID-19 friday press conference said “Recently when our team went about asking about the usage of Druk Trace App, people stated that even now people are not using it much. If community transmission is not there it is okay but if the situation worsens, the app will help greatly.”
“People can be located more easily. For example, if I go to the vegetable market, during that period all the data on people who were there and at what time they were there can all be tracked if they use this facility,” she added.
She said with the help of the app if they can track people fast they can control transmission faster, otherwise even a single person is enough to widely transmit the virus based on incidents in other countries.
“Therefore we request people to please use the app wherever you go” said Lyonpo.
She said “Some of the shopkeepers even reported that, when people were asked to use the app they avoided entering the shop or making a purchase. Please spare a few seconds. If not people nearby should enforce it and ask others to use the app as well. If they cannot use the app, they should still register in writing.”
This reporter found that many shopkeepers and people around Thimphu are doubtful of the effectiveness of the Druk Trace App as only about 40-50 percent of the people actually use the mobile phone app while entering shops.
According to the shopkeepers of Lhendup Gasel store and Tshering General Store, shoppers are quite reluctant to take out their phones for scanning purpose.
One of them said, “We do remind the customers to leave a quick scan of the QR code, and often times, people do it, with a positive response. But some people do not have phones or the app, itself. For those who do have capable phones, we help them to download the app. At times it is unpleasant for us to question someone’s intelligence, especially when they do not know how to scan.”
Some of the shopkeepers, specifically owning the electronic outlets, said that they get customers who seek help for downloading the app along with others apps, like WeChat and anti-virus apps.
A person who tired to scan the QR code on Thursday said that the Druk Trace App did not work without the Internet connection due to Bhutan Telecom’s data network disruption caused by the Amphan Cyclone in India. He said that the app would not be fully effective if the Internet connection is off.
He said, “In case of a community transmission, which I pray it does not happen, will the contact tracing be as effective as to locking on to every single contact a person has had?” And he added, “However, I am not trying to say that this is the fault of the government or anyone in particular. There is only so much that the people can do, given the nature of this COVID-19 disease, we should be thankful to our King, the government, and people’s unity for keeping us safe until now.”
One of the taxi drivers said that despite having the QR code visibly placed in the vehicle, many passengers are not scanning the OR code. He said, “We do ask them to do it, sometimes people said that they do not have battery or data to use the Druk Trace App. I really wonder if it is just people being lazy to spare 2 seconds of their time for everyone’s safety. I really hope people make use of the app as much as possible so that we can fight away the virus together.”
Other people who have been using the Druk Trace App said that there were bugs after the update and a few of them said that the app kept asking for update frequently.