Coronavirus: 'Concerningly low' numbers of people scanning COVID-19 QR codes, audit finds

Coronavirus: 'Concerningly low' numbers of people scanning COVID-19 QR codes, audit finds
Photo credit: Getty Images

An audit of the number of people scanning COVID-19 QR code posters in Dunedin has shown "concerningly low" numbers of people scanning in, an Otago University academic says.

Otago University Associate Professor Lianne Parkin of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine initiated the audit.

Five supermarkets, five churches, 10 restaurants, 10 cafes and 10 bars were randomly selected and visited by Dunedin School of Medicine Trainee Interns within an hour of their busiest times between 20 January and 14 February.

The students used Ministry of Health guidelines to assess how well the posters were displayed at each venue, counted the number of people who entered the venue during a one hour period and whether or not they scanned the poster.

At nearly a third of the venues no one scanned the QR code posters.

"The absence of scanning at eight of the ten bars is particularly concerning because these are venues that are often crowded, and behaviour may be adversely affected by alcohol, so there is a higher potential for virus transmission," Associate Professor Parkin said in a statement.

Median proportions of those who scanned at venues

  • Cafes - 21.5 percent
  • Restaurants - 10.2 percent
  • Churches - 4.4 percent
  • Supermarkets - 14.1 percent

Parkin said such low scanning rates could lead to difficulties and delays in contact tracing if someone was diagnosed with COVID-19.

She said although the risk of COVID-19 community transmission is very low, it is not zero.

"So, I think we all need to ask ourselves some tough questions; 'How would I feel if contact tracing was too slow to prevent onward transmission of the virus to others around me simply because I did not take a few seconds to scan a QR code poster or sign into a venue? How would I feel if some of those people became seriously ill or died? How would I feel if we had to go into lockdown again'?"

She said people need to remember that they are scanning to protect those around them.