Chhimi Dema

A young woman scans the Druk Trace QR (Quick Response) code in front of a shop in Thimphu. It does not work. She enters the shop, does her shopping and then walks away without trying to scan again.

Despite the health ministry’s mandatory requirement for people to scan the Druk Trace QR codes, many seem to not care about scanning when entering places such as shops, restaurants and public transport.

Only in places were De-Suups are stationed, people scan the QR codes.

The Druk Trace app was launched in April by the health ministry for contacting tracing in case of local transmission of Covid-19 in the country.

As of Monday, there were 259,503 individuals registered on the Druk Trace app, only about 35 percent of the total population in the country.

Since the launch of the app, 89,376 offices, shops, parks, restaurants and hotels and 17,275 transport services, which include taxis, buses and government vehicles, have created the QR codes from the app.

A shopkeeper along the Norzin Lam said people did not scan again after failing in the first attempt. “Some people just pretend to be scanning the code.”

Yangchen, a shopkeeper, said that people did not have to be reminded to scan the code for a few weeks after lockdown. “Only a handful of people scan the QR codes when they enter the shop now.”

Tashi, 33, said, “If a group of individuals enter my shop, only one would scan the QR code. I do not know if that would be effective during contact tracing.”

Tshomo, 24, a corporate employee, said that in some places the QR codes were hardly visible.

She said: “Shopkeepers have not displayed the QR codes properly. Some of them have pasted the codes on walls where it was hardly visible.”

Tshewang Rinzin, a taxi driver, said that most of the time he had to remind the passengers to scan the QR code.