Sunday, October 24, 2021
Ramathi Bandaranayake, Pirongrong Ramasoota (Chulalongkorn University), Ashwini Natesan, Arthit Suriyawongkul (Trinity College), Health-Related Information and COVID-19: A Study of Sri Lanka and Thailand, SSRN (2021):
In this research, we focus on the COVID-19 pandemic in two emerging Asia Pacific nations, Sri Lanka and Thailand, in particular on contact tracing and quarantine monitoring and enforcement.
We found that both countries relied heavily on contact tracing by leveraging extensive public health networks. The information flows are described in the report. Especially in Sri Lanka, the police and the armed forces were also heavily involved in contact tracing and quarantine monitoring and enforcement. Digital solutions for contact tracing have also been introduced in both countries, and while there have been benefits, there have also been drawbacks, including challenges related to cybersecurity and data governance. Responders also made extensive use of ICTs, including Microsoft Excel to create databases, as well as social media platforms such as WhatsApp and LINE to coordinate responses and report data.
Furthermore, we found that one of the challenges to disease surveillance was not just due to reluctance to disclose to authorities themselves, but the fear of lateral surveillance and stigmatization by neighbors and acquaintances and exposure of their COVID – positive status in the media. Hence, balancing the need for data collection with the need to protect personally identifiable information was a challenge. We end by offering recommendations on areas that can be improved. We hope that these findings will be useful to policymakers and health officials in combating future pandemics.