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Tencent rolls out health monitoring app for students

By Rhiannon Edwards

Tech giant unveils QR code app to track health following Covid-19 pandemic

Tencent holdings is rolling out a new health tracking code aimed at Chinese students.

As students prepare to return to school following a plateau in Covid-19 cases in the country, Tencent has created Fuxuema, which translates as “school resumption code”.

The Chinese tech giant is the world’s largest video gaming company and owner of Chinese social media company WeChat.

The feature allows students to fill out their daily temperatures. They then obtain a colour-based QR-code, a type of barcode, on their mobile phones that would show their health status. The feature will be part of the WeChat app.

QR Codes for health in the wake of Covid-19 were introduced in February by Alibaba group (owner of AliExpress and competitor of Tencent) to allow people to track their health status and prove their health levels in order to travel around China.

The colour-coded QR codes were rolled out through the Alipay app, which has 900 million users in China. The codes work on a traffic-light system: green codes mean free movement is allowed, yellow and red mean various lengths of imposed quarantine.

Human rights groups have warned that the measures represent a “surveillance creep” in the country under the guise of health concerns, the New York Times reports.

Schools in China have been shut since the end of January but some provinces such as Qinghai and Guizhou started to set reopening dates in early March as the number of new locally transmitted cases in the country fell.

Schools in Beijing and Shanghai have yet to say when they will ask students to return.

“When schools reopen, no matter whether it’s primary schools, middle schools or universities, they can put up a school access barcode at the gate, and let parents and outsiders scan via WeChat to enter school without hassle ... [and] further manage people who enter school,” Tencent said in its post.

Tencent stock has dipped slightly in the past month, standing at approximately US$45 a share on Monday, after peaking to highs of US$53 a share in mid-February.

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