Malaysia issues list of malls, hypermarkets seen as potential Covid-19 hot spots using new AI system

Locations include popular shopping locations such as Mid Valley Megamall. PHOTO: SAFIAH BEGUM

KUALA LUMPUR - Specific Malaysian malls, hypermarkets and grocery stores were identified as potential Covid-19 hot spots by the government on Saturday (May 8) in a list containing 150 locations which were pinpointed using a new big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) system.

These locations, which were monitored over a seven-day period, were identified by name in the maiden list, and 80 per cent of them are in densely populated Kuala Lumpur and Selangor state.

They include popular shopping locations such as Bangsar Shopping Centre, Suria KLCC, Mid Valley Megamall, the Sogo complex and Selayang Mall, Malay Mail online news reported.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the early warning system is aimed at helping members of the public to plan their movements, in order to prevent contracting the Covid-19 virus.

The predictive system, called Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement (Hide), he said, can also serve as a guide to premises owners to take proactive measures to curb virus transmissions.

"The Health Ministry will make predictions on premises that have the potential to become Covid-19 hot spots in the next seven days. Listing locations and premises is important and necessary, seeing that the number of new Covid-19 cases being reported daily are at a worrying level," he said in a statement as quoted by The Star daily.

"This list can enable pre-emptive measures to be taken by the authorities, premises owners, and the people in order to prevent new clusters from emerging," he added.

Malaysia is struggling to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections. New daily cases rose to 4,498 on Friday, the highest in three months, while total admissions into intensive care units, at 506, is the highest since Covid-19 was tracked in Malaysia early last year.

At the launch of the AI system on Tuesday (May 4), Mr Khairy said it uses several variables in its predictive analysis to identify potential hot spots.

These include crowd density, space constraints and air ventilation, which are used to predict whether a particular location could potentially be a Covid-19 hot spot.

Mr Khairy said on Saturday that among intervention measures that would be taken by the authorities and premises owners are to send casual-contact notifications through the MySejahtera contact-tracing app, controlling the movement of visitors, stopping visitors with "high-risk" status on MySejahtera from entering an area and carrying out mass testing on workers.

"The public is also advised to delay visiting locations and premises that have been listed. If you do have to visit these locations, adhere to the guidelines that have been set," the minister said.

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