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Epidemiologists Dub QR Check-Ins As “Pretty Useless” But Should Remain In Place

A number of epidemiologists are now saying that due to Australia’s high numbers of COVID cases, QR check-in codes are now “pretty useless” but should remain in place in case of future need.

Epidemiologist at the University of South Australia, Adrian Esterman, said with case numbers as high as Australia’s, no contract tracing system could stop the spread.

Speaking to the Guardian Australia, Esterman said: “When you start getting into the hundreds of cases and even worse, thousands of cases, there’s no contact tracing in the world that can manage … by the time that you get notified you’re a close contact, it’s probably a week late and you’ve already had the infection and you’ve recovered,” 

“It is simply not needed unless we get down to sufficiently low case numbers that contact tracers can actually use the information. Until then, QR codes are pretty useless unless they are used for entry where they check your vaccine status.”

In contrast, the Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, Catherine Bennett, said they weren’t useless and still had a purpose, but the systems should be concentrated on fewer sites with higher risks. 

“It’s not just about telling someone they might have been exposed to a case in a place where they probably had a very small chance of contracting the virus a week ago,” she said.

NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet, had at one point revoked the mandate on QR codes and then reinstated them. He stated that: “People feel confident checking in, and our job as government is to instil confidence in our people, in the circumstances where we have a highly vaccinated population, to go out to enjoy the best that NSW has to offer in a way where you keep yourself, your friends and your family safe,” 

Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews stated that as long as experts continue to tell the government QR codes “serve a purpose” they would remain in place.