Singaporean citizen first to use digital Covid-19 health certificate to cross international border
A Singaporean citizen, who returned to the country from Japan on Monday, became the first person in the world to use a digital Covid-19 health certificate for immigration purposes, the companies behind the pass said in a statement. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) stated that a traveller on Singapore Airlines flight 637 used AOKpass, a digitally authenticated medical records, “to officially present a negative Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction” digital test result upon arrival at Changi Airport’s immigration counters.
“This was the first time an immigration authority has used a blockchain based, digitally verifiable health certificate,” the statement read.
According to the ICC, Singapore has become the first country to use a digital health certificate to verify the Covid-19 status of inbound travellers. All travellers from Malaysia and Indonesia will now be able to use ICC AOKpass at Changi Airport to digitally authenticate their Covid-19 test results. They will also be able to authenticate other necessary health credentials during immigration checks.
ICC secretary-general John W.H. Denton AO opined that the chaos at UK ports, triggered by movement restrictions due to the new coronavirus variant, demonstrated the need for pre-travel testing. Denton AO said in a statement that the AOKpass app, following months of pilot tests, has now reached the necessary level of maturity to receive a “sovereign endorsement.”
“Deploying standardised testing and verification systems are, simply put, the only way governments can safeguard cross-border commerce while the spread of the virus remains highly unpredictable,” he added.
Dr Chester Drum, a co-founder of AOKpass, said in a statement that the use of blockchain technology is a critical step in combating the challenges of forged tests and medical records. He stressed that there is an urgent need for a common framework in certifying, authenticating and securing the results of a Covid-19 test.
“In addition, users must trust that their data privacy is managed well, with no risk of personal data leaks,” Drum added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has also been pushing for a Covid-19 tracking system by using QR codes, as a part of “global mechanism” to ease international travel during coronavirus pandemic. During a virtual G20 summit in November, Xi had proposed a mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates in the form of “internationally accepted QR codes.”