Singapore launches contact tracing mobile app to track coronavirus infections

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The mobile app using Bluetooth technology developed by GovTech in collaboration with the Ministry of Health informs user who had close contacts to confirmed coronavirus cases was launched in Singapore on 20. (AFP/Catherine Lai)
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The mobile app using Bluetooth technology developed by GovTech in collaboration with the Ministry of Health informs user who had close contacts to confirmed coronavirus cases was launched in Singapore on 20. (AFP/Catherine Lai)
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Updated 20 March 2020

Singapore launches contact tracing mobile app to track coronavirus infections

  • The TraceTogether app will work by exchanging short distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other participating users in close proximity of 2 meters
  • Users will need to send their logs when requested by the health ministry, which will otherwise not have any knowledge of the data

SINGAPORE: Singapore launched a contact-tracing smartphone app to allow authorities to identify those who have been exposed to people infected with coronavirus as part of efforts to curb the spread of the disease.
Governments around the world have turned to technology to battle the virus.
The TraceTogether app will work by exchanging short distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other participating users in close proximity of 2 meters.
Records of the encounters will be stored locally on each phone with the app, developed by Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the health ministry.
Users will need to send their logs when requested by the health ministry, which will otherwise not have any knowledge of the data, according to an official statement.
Singapore has won international praise for its fastidious approach in tackling the virus — which has included using police investigators and security cameras to help track suspect carriers.
The data stored on users’ phones will be encrypted and the app will not access other information, such as a user’s location.
“The engineering has preserved the privacy of the users from each other,” Janil Puthucheary, a senior minister of state, told reporters.
Singapore has stringent rules to deal with infectious diseases — last month it charged a Chinese couple with giving false information about their movements to authorities looking to trace their contacts.
While downloading the app is not compulsory, the government said it would encourage people to do so.
TraceTogether’s functionality will be suspended after the epidemic subsides, according to its description in the Apple App Store.


TWITTER POLL: UK decision to exclude Arab nations from COVID-19 quarantine ‘unjust’

Updated 07 July 2020

TWITTER POLL: UK decision to exclude Arab nations from COVID-19 quarantine ‘unjust’

  • Saudi Arabia's infection rate is similar to UK, Egypt is even lower
  • Poll reveals Arab News readers believe quarantine rule is unjust

DUBAI: The UK government’s decision to not include people traveling from any Arab nations in its waiving of the coronavirus quarantine requirements is unjust according to an Arab News Twitter poll.

The recent announcement that it was lifting quarantine requirements for people arriving in England from 59 different countries failed to include any Arab nations, despite many having significantly lower COVID-19-related fatality rates and similar proportions of infections.

Of the 1,039 people who took part in the poll, 56 percent said they did not believe that the United Kingdom’s decision was justified, while 27.3 percent said they did.

According to ourworldindata.org more than 15 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases lead to a fatality in the UK, while in the UAE that number was significantly lower at 0.62 percent, and in Saudi Arabia 0.91 percent.

People traveling from the countries not included in the list of 59 will still be required to self-quarantine on arrival into the UK for two weeks.

The UK currently has an infection rate of approximately 0.42 percent of its total population, while in France the rate is at 0.25 percent and Germany a slightly lower 0.23 percent – both the latter countries are included in the exemption list.

 

But Saudi Arabia’s infection rate is currently at 0.61 percent of its total population, Egypt is at 0.075 percent and Tunisia even lower at 0.01 percent – and yet none of these countries are included.

The UAE which has a significantly lower population  of less than 10 million, has an infection rate of 2.88 percent.

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