Showing vaccination status to be made easy even without smartphone

Progress on cross-border recognition of vaccine cert may take some time, says Janil

Senior Minister Of State For Health Janil Puthucheary
Senior Minister Of State For Health Janil Puthucheary

It will be easy and convenient in future for people to show they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, including for those without smartphones.

Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said the Ministry of Health will, when ready, release details of how individuals can show their valid vaccination status.

He was responding yesterday to Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) on whether Singaporeans unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons would be given cards or letters to show to retail staff, in the event they are blocked from entering stores in future.

Dr Janil and Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung also told Parliament that government agencies are actively discussing with international counterparts on possible mutual recognition of vaccination certificates to enable cross-border travel.

On vaccination status, Dr Janil said: "Measures for the unvaccinated are generally based on public health considerations to prevent infection, and would not distinguish between those who choose not to be vaccinated and those who were not medically eligible.

"Other vaccines may be available in the future for those who are not currently medically eligible."

Dr Janil said progress on cross-border recognition of vaccine certification may take some time.

More data is needed to assess if changes to border measures such as testing and stay-home notice requirements can be made for vaccinated individuals, and if such measures will be affected by the different types of vaccines, he noted.

Dr Janil added that most countries - including Singapore - have only just started vaccinations, and border measures would also need to account for other factors such as the number of Covid-19 cases and infection control efforts in source countries.

Mr Ong said Singapore is exploring mutual recognition of vaccination certificates - which can be physical or digital, and have to be secure, tamper-proof and verifiable - with several countries and regions, including Australia.

The country will continue to evaluate the Covid-19 situation abroad, and proactively explore the possibility of restoring air travel when it is safe to do so, he added.

TRAVEL BUBBLE TALKS WITH HONG KONG NOT AFFECTED

Mr Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC) also asked about the impact of an April 2 move by Hong Kong to bar Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights from the Republic till April 16.

This was prompted by a transit passenger who tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival, and three other transit passengers who breached Hong Kong's entry rules by taking their pre-departure tests at uncertified clinics.

Mr Ong said these were technical reasons that would not affect talks to re-establish a Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble that was supposed to begin last November.

He noted that flights within any proposed travel bubble would carry only passengers from the destination of origin and not those in transit.

Separately, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and International Air Transport Association (Iata) announced yesterday that from May 1, passengers travelling to Singapore would be able to use an Iata travel pass app to share pre-departure Covid-19 test results with their airline.

The app - now extended to more than 20 airlines - enables passengers to obtain polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results from accredited laboratories, and use them at check-in and on arrival at immigration checkpoints at Changi Airport.

This follows a successful trial by SIA last month.

CAAS and Iata said they would work on adding enhancements such as QR code scanning by immigration officers; backend transmission of health credentials to airlines' and immigration authorities' systems; and vaccination certificates.

The Iata travel pass will be available for download in the second half of this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2021, with the headline 'Showing vaccination status to be made easy even without smartphone'. Subscribe