Electronic traveler registration system likely coming in October

Since mid-July, all persons entering Latvia have had to complete written questionnaires about their movements and COVID-19 status. An electronic system is expected to replace the paper-based system at the beginning of October, Interior Ministry representatives told Latvian Radio September 3.

In order to track the spread of COVID-19, arrivals complete questionnaires distributed by international passenger carriers. Then via the border guard, the stack of paperwork comes either to the State Police (if the persons in question have to comply with self-isolation) or to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SPKC) for other statistical use.

In mid-July, an electronic system was promised within weeks. There are countries where it has been introduced a month ago. Jānis Dreimanis, representative of the Information Center of the Ministry of Interior, explained that the time of development itself is relatively short -- four weeks -- but that developers also needed to identify the interests of all the services involved so that the system could be more efficient.

“The end of September, early October – the system has to start operating already. A website will be created where people will have to fill out a statement: name, countries entered, place of residence where self-isolation will be observed,” Dreimanis said.

Electronic questionnaires will be available in Latvian, Russian and English. In 30 days, they will be deleted and will only be stored in an aggregated way to comply with data protection rules.

The Ministry of Interior has estimated a maximum of EUR 37 000 for the new system. However, it will not be entirely possible to guarantee arrivals have completed the necessary questionnaires. It is the responsibility of the arrivals themselves.

“In the end, it is the responsibility of the traveler to complete these questionnaires. It would be impossible to control the entire population of all countries. Of course, an e-mail check will be scheduled, where you need to provide e-mail, and only then can you continue filling out these questionnaires. Of course, in this sense, it is not a complete inspection,” the Ministry's representative admitted.

The Center for Disease Prevention and Control has received 133,000 paper questionnaires so far, but only about ten of them have been used. SPKC spokeswoman Ilze Arāja pointed out that epidemiologists are in primary contact with the infected person when conducting an investigation. Questionnaires are only auxiliary.

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