Fraudulent use of the HES code, the shortened form of Hayat Eve Sığar (Life Fits Into Home), an app developed by the Health Ministry, has started to pose a health risk in Turkey. Some people, who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to be quarantined at home, are still entering public institutions, public transportation, shopping malls and restaurants by using others’ HES codes. Fraudsters obtain these codes either from their relatives or from people sharing their HES codes on social media.
As the number of coronavirus cases has drastically increased in recent weeks, experts pointed to HES code fraud as one of the reasons for this rise. They said that arbitrary control by security personnel at the entrances of crowded places poses a significant health risk.
Ali Murat Kırık from Marmara University said that people who have tested positive for coronavirus are entering many places including shopping malls and restaurants which defies social distancing and social isolation rules.
“Some people with coronavirus enter wherever they want by obtaining a screenshot of the HES code of a negative person. Because there are always long queues at the front of these places, security personnel let those people in without making a careful check. These people put everyone around them at risk,” he said.
The HES code, generated by a Health Ministry-run digital project, assigns a unique number to every citizen. The number allows officials to check whether the person bearing the number has been infected or poses a risk of infection.
According to the new measures at state institutions and organizations, and at all state and private schools and institutions under the Ministry of Education, people who are entering the premises will be checked for their HES code. The change at schools will affect everyone intending to enter an educational institution except teachers, students and staff, who are all already risk assessed by an integrated system between the health and education ministries.
Some of the other affected institutions include nongovernmental organizations, coffeehouses, cafes, internet and gaming institutions, theme parks and barbershops as well as several other businesses.
In order to ensure that there are no setbacks in administering the new measures by district governors and relevant institutions, officials have also decided to take legal action under the Public Health Law against those who disobey the rules.
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