Singapore formally deactivates contact tracing system, to ‘refurbish’ wearables

Singapore is formally turning off its COVID-19 contact tracing system amidst plans to additional ease journey restrictions, because the nation exits the “acute section” of the pandemic. 

Plans are also in place to retrieve tens of millions of Bluetooth-enabled wearables, distributed nationwide to detect and monitor consumer proximity, so these might be “refurbished and recycled” for future use when wanted. 

Singapore’s Well being Ministry mentioned Thursday that the federal government had been progressively rolling again the nation’s TraceTogether and SafeEntry platforms over the previous months, as the worldwide pandemic scenario stabilised. 

Launched in March 2020, the TraceTogether app tapped Bluetooth alerts to detect different collaborating cellular gadgets in shut proximity, permitting them to determine those that had been in shut contact when wanted. Knowledge can be captured, encrypted, and saved domestically on the consumer’s cellphone for 21 days and, when wanted in touch tracing, uploaded to the Well being Ministry for overview.

SafeEntry was used as a digital check-in system, gathering knowledge to facilitate contact tracing of people and the places they visited after they examined constructive for COVID-19. QR codes had been displayed on the entry and exit factors of venues, akin to supermarkets and buying malls, which guests should scan and enter their identify, nationwide identification quantity, and cellular quantity. 

With Singapore not requiring contaminated people to submit TraceTogether and SafeEntry particulars, the Well being Ministry mentioned all identifiable knowledge collected by way of the 2 platforms had been wiped from its servers and databases. 

Nonetheless, TraceTogether knowledge associated to a homicide investigation in Might 2020 can be retained indefinitely, the ministry mentioned. It famous that this was wanted in critical circumstances the place authorized purposes is likely to be made to problem convictions or sentences years after the case had concluded, and native regulation enforcement would possibly have to disclose the info.

And whereas Singapore is readying to exit the acute section of the pandemic, transferring its present DORSCON stage from yellow to inexperienced from February 13, the nation’s contact tracing infrastructure should be prepared for reactivation when wanted in future ought to a brand new variant emerged, the Well being Ministry mentioned. 

“For this goal, registration particulars akin to identify, enterprise UEN (Distinctive Entity Quantity), and cellular quantity will probably be retained within the system, to minimise the steps taken by people and corporations to arrange and re-register for TraceTogether and SafeEntry, ought to it’s wanted,” it famous. 

It added that residents and companies can uninstall their TraceTogether and SafeEntry apps, although, these nonetheless will probably be out there on Apple’s App Retailer, Google Play Retailer, and Huawei AppGallery, for future activation if wanted. 

The general public can return their TraceTogether wearables between February 13 and March 12 by way of 108 neighborhood centres situated throughout the island. These will probably be refurbished and recycled for distribution when wanted in future, ought to contact tracing be reactivated, in accordance with the Well being Ministry. 

At its peak, TraceTogether was utilized by greater than 90% of the native inhabitants, however a public outcry erupted when it was revealed the police might entry the contact tracing knowledge for legal investigations, contradicting earlier assertions this data would solely be used when the person examined constructive for the coronavirus. 

It prompted the federal government to go the COVID-19 (Non permanent Measures) (Modification) Invoice, detailing the scope of native regulation enforcement’s entry to contact tracing knowledge. Below the Invoice, public sector businesses together with the Police can not gather and entry such knowledge as soon as the TraceTogether and SafeEntry techniques are deactivated, with the exception the info is utilized in legal investigations and courtroom proceedings. 

Together with its transfer to DORSCON Inexperienced from February 13, Singapore will not require non-fully vaccinated travellers to point out proof of a unfavourable pre-departure check. All travellers, nevertheless, nonetheless have to submit a well being declaration by way of the digital SG Arrival Card upon getting into the nation.


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