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LCQ5: “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile application

​Following is a question by the Hon Duncan Chiu and a reply by the Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, Professor Sun Dong, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):


In the light of the development of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Government has announced, with effect from December 14, 2022, the lifting of the requirement for members of the public to scan the “LeaveHomeSafe” (LHS) venue QR code when entering premises, and that premises operators are no longer required to display LHS venue QR codes. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that the Government has reiterated for many times that the main functions of the LHS mobile application are to help members of the public identify high-risk activities and facilitate contact tracing, whether the Government will provide relevant data, including the number of downloads by members of the public, the number of times for which high-risk activities were identified, and the number of cases in which contact tracing was facilitated, etc., so as to demonstrate the actual benefits of the mobile application from its launch in November 2020 to December 13, 2022, and whether the Government has comprehensively reviewed if the mobile application can achieve the target benefits originally expected by the Government;

(2) of the amount of information and data accessed and used through the LHS mobile application so far, and the mechanism for subsequent processing of such information and data; and

(3) of the future arrangements for the LHS mobile application, including whether it will be permanently removed or merged with other government applications (e.g. "iAM Smart"), and the details of the relevant arrangements, such as the estimated manpower to be involved in operation and system maintenance, the handling of information and data already used, the estimated operating expenditure, function changes, and the implementation timetable?



Having regard to the latest development of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Government has been adopting a multi-pronged approach in its implementation and adjustment of anti-epidemic policies and measures. It has also been proactively leveraging different innovative technology solutions to enhance the effectiveness of these measures.

My consolidated reply to the questions raised by the Hon Duncan Chiu is as follows:

The Government launched the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app in November 2020, with a view to providing members of the public with a convenient digital tool for recording the time of their visits to different venues under the epidemic. The mobile app would also send exposure notifications to users who have visited a venue that a confirmed patient has also visited at about the same time, and remind users to undergo a testing in accordance with the requirements stipulated in the Compulsory Testing Notices. In an unfortunate event of infection, the users' visit records could assist the Centre for Health Protection to conduct epidemiological investigations and contact tracing. It could help cut the transmission chains in the community.

The design of the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app follows the principle of protecting users' privacy. Users can use the app readily without the need to register any personal information. Users' visit records and their Vaccine Pass are encrypted and stored in the mobile app of their phones and will not be stored in any Government systems or other systems. Visit records stored in users' mobile app will be erased automatically after 31 days. For confirmed patients, in accordance with Cap. 599D Prevention and Control of Disease (Disclosure of Information) Regulation, they have a duty to submit their visit records during the communicable period to the Centre for Health Protection for assisting in epidemiological investigations. The visit records submitted to the Department of Health through the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app will be treated as the records for epidemiological investigations and the retention arrangement of them will be the same as the records used in other epidemiological investigations conducted by the Department of Health currently.

Taking into account the views of the public and the industry, as well as the latest development of the anti-epidemic policies in Hong Kong, we have been continuously enhancing the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app. Over the past two years or so, we have rolled out over 40 versions of the app to tie in with the Government's anti-epidemic measures implemented in different stages. Last year, to tie in with the Vaccine Pass arrangement implemented in February, we rolled out the enhanced version to enable citizens to store their Vaccine Pass in the app. In August in the same year, we further enhanced the Vaccine Pass function in the app with the addition of Red Code/Amber Code to differentiate persons with higher risk of infection for supporting the latest isolation and quarantine policies.

In order to facilitate citizens' registration for testing and reducing the time spent on queuing on-site and registration, a Testing Registration Code function was added to the “LeaveHomeSafe” in September last year. Members of the public could opt for storing the user-designated QR code generated with pre-filled personal information. The process of on-site registration could be streamlined by presenting the QR code for scanning at the testing points. Moreover, to tie in with the policy of lowering the applicable age of Vaccine Pass to five and other related arrangements with effective in the same month, we released a new version of the “LeaveHomeSafe” swiftly for allowing users to concurrently store the Vaccine Pass of a maximum of eight accompanied persons who are exempted from using the “LeaveHomeSafe”. It could facilitate users to present their Vaccine Pass on entry to restaurants and designated premises. In October, another new version of the “LeaveHomeSafe” was released to streamline the self-declaration procedure. Infected users with Red Code could conduct self-declaration with one click to complete isolation and their Vaccine Pass will be automatically reverted to blue.

The “LeaveHomeSafe” has assisted the Government in its implementation of anti-epidemic strategies with precision in the past two years and become an important digital platform for fighting the epidemic in Hong Kong. As of December 2022, the number of downloads of the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app has exceeded 9.5 million and over 140 000 public and private venues have complied with the requirements and rendered their support. More than 30 000 exposure notifications have been released through the app and more than 500 000 citizens have undergone a testing in the community testing centres upon receipt of the exposure notifications. For supporting the Red Code/Amber Code initiative, more than 2.2 billion times of matchings and more than 3 million code conversions have been performed.

Following the Government's announcement of lifting the requirement of scanning venue QR code, Vaccine Pass, Red Code/Amber Code, etc., in December 2022, alongside with the gradual lifting of various anti-epidemic measures, members of the public have gradually resumed their normal life in an orderly manner. The “LeaveHomeSafe” has successfully served its historical mission and the app will not be further updated. If members of the public find the need to use particular functions of the mobile app (e.g. Testing Registration Code), they may keep the app in their mobile phones. The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer also received instruction from the Department of Health and completed the deletion of all visit records in the system previously uploaded from “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app of confirmed cases. The related system has ceased operation. We are grateful to members of the public, venue operators and the industry for being supportive to the “LeaveHomeSafe” and their efforts for contributing to Hong Kong's anti-epidemic work over the past two years.

Looking forward, we will proactively promote and enhance the "iAM Smart" mobile app for providing a one-stop personalised digital services platform which enables users to access the Government's online services at ease. We aim to turn all government services online in two years and fully adopt "iAM Smart" within three years so as to realise the target of "single portal for online government services".

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