The patients tested positive in three different Chinese cities outside Hubei after they were allowed to leave using the official barcodes on their smartphones.
Hubei authorities said the new cases revealed a loophole in the ‘health code’ system, but they couldn’t identify ‘who is responsible for it’, according to the press.
At least 2.8million migrant workers have been allowed to leave Hubei to resume work after the province lifted its travel restrictions on March 25.
Four Hubei citizens have been diagnosed with the coronavirus after travelling out of the former ground zero with green health codes that prove they are virus-free. Pictured: A passenger scans a QR code to get his green pass at a subway station in Wuhan
At least 2.8million migrant workers have been allowed to leave Hubei to resume work after the province lifted its travel restrictions on March 25. Wuhan is pictured yesterday with the city’s traffic resuming normal after the former epicentre lifted its 76-day lockdown
Guangzhou Health Commission recorded a new infection on Saturday, marking the fourth case from Hubei residents who travelled out of the former epicentre. On April 10, another traveller with no symptoms also tested positive in Guangzhou after visiting a doctor for back pain.
The first infection was detected on March 26 in Huizhou of southern China after the resident left Hubei with a virus-free QR code. Another case was spotted in Lanzhou, Gansu Province of western China on March 29.
Green is the ‘health code’ that says a user is not a coronavirus-carrier and cities around China have required residents to use it to travel or enter public places.
Obtaining a health code is simple: Users fill out an electronic form with their identity details, address and whether they have a cough or fever.
Those who are under quarantine are given a yellow or red code depending on how many days they have isolated themselves for. If they have just started their quarantine, they will be tagged with a red code; but if they have isolated themselves for more than a week, a yellow code will be issued.
Green is the ‘health code’ that says a user is not a coronavirus-carrier and cities around China required residents to use it to travel or enter public places. A passenger wearing a face mask walks past a Wuhan city health QR code, to be scanned before entering Tianhe Airport
Residents who have no records of infections or quarantine history are assigned with the green code. But experts fear the self-diagnosis system makes it difficult to detect patients with no symptoms or people who lie about their health status.
‘Some asymptomatic patients don’t have any records, so it is difficult to find them,’ Yu Chuanhua, a professor from the public health college of Wuhan University, told Health Times.
‘Several cases have emerged in various places, showing that some loopholes exist in the Hubei health code system,’ said Song Jianxin, a member of the Hubei Provincial Epidemic Prevention Expert Group.
But authorities haven’t been able to identify exactly where the problem lies or who is responsible for the flaw in the health app.
Cities across China have offered free coronavirus tests for arriving Hubei residents in a response to the new infections.
Officials said at least 2.8million migrant workers left Hubei to resume work after the province lifted its travel restrictions on March 25.
55,000 Wuhan residents reportedly left the city on April 8, the day it lifted its draconian lockdown after 76 days.
Passengers queue at Wuhan city’s main rail station as the lockdown is lifted after 76 days
The smartphone app has also sparked fears of the country’s deepening controls and mass surveillance on its 1.4billion citizens. People are pictured traveling on the subway in Wuhan
The smartphone app has also sparked fears of the country’s deepening controls and mass surveillance on its 1.4billion citizens.
The codes are issued through the popular WeChat messaging service of internet giant Tencent Ltd. and the Alipay electronic payments service of Alibaba Group, the world´s biggest e-commerce company.
Some 900 million people use the system on WeChat, according to the newspaper Beijing Youth Daily and other outlets. No total for Alipay has been reported.
Chinese officials have warned about a potential second wave of the outbreak, following a surge of imported cases from inbound travellers and asymptomatic cases.
China has now shut its 2,670-mile border with Russia, as well as the northern autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, after 332 infections were detected at the border city Suifenhe.
The country has reported 86 new imported cases today, bringing the total to 1,464. More than 82,000 people in mainland China have been infected with the coronavirus and the death toll now stands at 3,341.
The city of Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, has classified its citizens into three groups represented by three corresponding ‘health codes’. The green code means the person is not a confirmed or suspected patient. The yellow code means the person is in quarantine but has less than seven days left. The red code mean the person needs to be isolated for 14 days