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Australian contact tracing review recommends tracking card transactions

Australian contact tracing review recommends tracking card transactions

A review of contact tracing in Australia has suggested using consumer credit card data to track the trail of people hosting the Covid-19 virus.

The November National Contact Tracing Review, chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, found the use of digital technology will be critical in responding to virus outbreaks.

The review recommended the development of arrangements with payment providers so contact tracers will be able to request contact details of people who have made a transaction at a hotspot venue.

“Privacy rules will apply and in some jurisdictions legislative change may be required,” the review said.

The use of such tracking technology could have prevented the recent lockdown in South Australia, sparked by a pizza worker carrying the virus who told contact tracers he had only ordered a take-away pizza from an Adelaide cafe when in fact he had worked there. This led authorities to believe they were dealing with an extremely contagious strain of coronavirus, sending the state into a six-day lockdown that ended up only lasting three days.

While QR codes record the contact details of people who attended a venue, integrated POS systems can identify all staff, goods and services exchanged and members of the public that may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

South Korea has been at the forefront of contact tracing and used credit card transactions to track people exposed to Covid-19 early on in the pandemic. While Australia has recorded more than 27,000 cases, South Korea (with double the population) has recorded about 30,000 cases.

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