IT glitch causes MOH to wrongly send message to 357 Covid-19 patients that they are infected again

The Ministry of Health sent a follow-up message to all recipients clarifying the mistake.
The Ministry of Health sent a follow-up message to all recipients clarifying the mistake.ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

SINGAPORE - Some 357 patients who had previously been diagnosed with Covid-19 received an SMS message wrongly sent by the Ministry of Health (MOH) last Saturday (May 16) informing them that they had once again tested positive.

The ministry said this was caused by an IT system testing glitch during its efforts to increase the system's efficiency. It sent a follow-up message to all recipients within three hours, clarifying the mistake and apologising for the inconvenience and anxiety caused.

"We have since reviewed our processes to ensure that a similar error will not recur," it said.

The ministry was referring to screenshots of the erroneous messages posted in a CNA report. In the messages, MOH told the recipients to wear a mask and isolate themselves from their household, upload their TraceTogether data, and contact their doctor for medical queries.

A later message then told them to ignore the previous SMS that was sent.

The authorities have been trying to use SMS notifications to inform patients of their results in a bid to streamline the process, as the country begins actively testing those who meet the case suspect definition at all polyclinics and selected general practitioner clinics.

The MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation launched an unrelated system called iConnect.Covid earlier this month that automatically sends SMS notifications of negative test results to patients from six polyclinics.

The system will also automatically alert healthcare institutions when patients test positive, so that they can then call the patients to arrange transport to take them to healthcare facilities.