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New app touted as COVID-19 ‘health passport’

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A new app is being touted as a potential health passport for travellers who are virus-free, in an effort to help resuscitate global tourism.

The app – CovidPass – is also being viewed as a potential catalyst to allow sports and entertainment venues to reopen safely, as well as the global conference and exhibition industry.

CovidPass is the brainchild of one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, Mustapha Mokass, and the world economic body says unlike contact tracing apps, CovidPass will not track users’ movements.

“Non-mandatory contact tracing apps have met with only limited success so far due to privacy concerns,” it says.

CovidPass uses blockchain technology to store encrypted data from individual blood tests, allowing users to prove they have tested negative for COVID-19.

Rising COVID-19 infection rates continue to pose a threat to global tourism and the World Economic Forum (WEF) says the app, which also provides an encrypted record of test results, may be the lifeline for the industry.

Millions have shelved travel plans following a series of COVID-19 flare-ups around the world, forcing trips to be cancelled and travellers being quarantined when they return home.

The Tourism Business Council of SA says more than R68 billion in tourism spend has been lost since South Africa’s national lockdown began at the end of March.

More than 700 000 people, or one in every 22 working South Africans, is employed in the sector.

Now, WEF says, the CovidPass app promises to restore confidence in the travel industry and push the revival of tourism.

The economic body says the app would also help restart the worldwide conference and exhibition industry, “which has contracted by 60%, at a cost of $180 billion in lost revenue and impacting 1.9 million jobs”.

According to Mokass, CovidPass commits to mandatory carbon offsetting for each flight passenger, to preserve the environmental benefits of reduced air travel during the crisis.

He hopes his app, which is launching in September, will become a standardised solution for airlines, airports and border agencies, and eliminate quarantine for healthy travellers.

“CovidPass could also allow hotels, cinemas, theatres, sporting and concert venues to reopen safely,” he says.

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