Why we need to keep scanning the Covid-19 QR code

7 August 2020 by Hanum Afandi

DESPITE the low active Covid-19 cases recorded locally lately, we should not be complacent and keep on the practice of registering ourselves every time we enter a premise.

According to Dr Helmi Zakaria, who is the creator of the SELangkah ecosystem, in the rise of the pandemic like Covid-19, it is advisable for people to maintain their physical distance, and abide by the rules set by the government to break the infection chain.

“The society must learn to adapt to this new norm and practise the 3S SOP – Sanitize, Screen (body temperature), and Scan (QR codes) to reduce the number of outbreaks in Malaysia,” he said.

Dr Helmi, who is also part of the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC), said while we are in a pandemic mode, the need for people to go to business premises and establishments to buy their daily goods and keep the economy moving cannot be avoided, although this will make it hard for them to keep their distance effectively.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) public health strategy in managing any outbreak is “trace, test and isolate”.

“Therefore, there is a need to continue with the QR code, like SELangkah, scanning every time people enter a premise,” he said.

SELangkah (Selamat Melangkah) is the earliest digital entry registration system in Malaysia that was launched on May 4, 2020. It became a pioneering benchmark method that was soon followed nationwide.

The unique QR code can be self-printed at www.selangkah.my, and should be placed at businesses and public premises to facilitate contact tracing of Covid-19.

“Over time, the resultant entry logs datalake is huge, and there should be an efficient way on how to trace people who are exposed to the virus. We use artificial intelligence (AI) technology in mapping the contact tracing network and it helps in narrowing down the cohort that needs to be tested, while enabling us to estimate impending outbreaks from the density and the flow of population movement. This way, those who are exposed to Covid-19 can be easily traced and isolated promptly, thus helping to break the transmission chain and flatten the curve,” said Dr Helmi, adding that this method is proven to be more efficient in comparison to finding potential contacts using the old-school pen and book writing method.

Using SELangkah

A patron is required to scan the SELangkah QR code that is displayed at the entrance of their premises via smartphones and submit the required information.

Aside from business premises, the SELangkah QR code is also used in schools, religious houses and other buildings entered by the public.


Digital gaps exist in many forms, from technology gap, know-how gap or even disability.

“For most people with the latest phone, they can use their smartphone’s camera that has a built-in QR scanner, any QR-code scanner app or the SELangkah QR scanning app.

However, for those who can’t afford a smartphone, they can SMS the unique SELangkah codes to 66399 for checking in. The SELangkah SMS is completely free of charge,” said Dr Helmi.

“For people with disabilities, we provide “Web Check-in” (accessible through website) or “Register for others” (accessible through the receipt) options so that the staff can help to register their customers. We want to create a Contact Tracing system that leaves no one behind,” he added.

SELangkah, he said, is presently merged with a number of contact tracing ecosystems like MySejahtera. MidValley QR System, and Maybank QR pay app to widen the scope of contact tracing and other functional features that eases users with existing measures.

Data security

One of the concerns the public have about giving their details when scanning the QR code is data leakage.

However, Dr Helmi assured them that the risk is minimised.

He said there are a number of ways of how the public can minimise the risk of data breach.

“Firstly, by making it less attractive to intruders. SELangkah, for example, only requires a user’s name and phone number. There is no other sensitive personal data required like identity card number.

Secondly, is by ensuring that only health authorities have access to it for contact tracing purposes. Thirdly, is by putting in tight cybersecurity measures,” he said.

“SELangkah is a part of the new norm that society has yet to get accustomed to, and adhering to it can be a challenge for some, especially the less technological-savvy among us. Co-operation and support from the public which includes government, business, and individuals in utilising SELangkah will help the frontliners to detect Covid-19 cases early, and prevent further lockdown measures.

“Ignorance would only risk the health and safety of people, including loved ones. If you bump into someone who is struggling to scan the QR code, please lend a couple of minutes to show them how. Everyone needs to be involved, so we can save not only lives, but livelihood,” he added.