Singapore to issue tracking devices to those in home quarantine

A drop-off point at Changi Airport. Photo: Shawn Ang
A drop-off point at Changi Airport. Photo: Shawn Ang

Travelers entering Singapore and placed under home quarantine from Aug. 10 will have to don electronic tracking devices for the entire 14 days. 

All inbound travelers over 12 opting to quarantine at home rather than a designated COVID-19 facility, such as a hotel, will have to wear the device to ensure compliance.

The monitoring device to be rolled out next week uses GPS, 4G and Bluetooth signals to track the movements of those under quarantine and make sure they do not step out of their places of residence except to go to scheduled COVID-19 test appointments, the authorities announced today. 

Any unsanctioned movement will alert the authorities, who will then conduct an investigation. Enforcement actions will also be taken if the device is not activated, a statement by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Education said. 

“On arrival in Singapore, travellers serving their stay-home notice at their place of residence will be issued with an electronic monitoring device at the checkpoints, after immigration clearance. They will need to activate the electronic monitoring device upon reaching their place of residence,” the statement read.

It added that data will not be saved and is encrypted when transmitted from the devices.

“The devices do not store any personal data and do not have any voice/video recording function,” it said. 

It’s the first mandatory tracking technology to be introduced since the pandemic began.

In March, a mobile application called TraceTogether was launched to help contact tracing efforts. It uses Bluetooth signals to detect other users who are in close proximity. Records are only shared with the Ministry of Health for contact tracing investigations, but its usefulness has been hampered by a low rate of adoption.

Then in June, the authorities announced a plan in June to roll out a wearable version known as TraceTogether tokens. Seeking to address privacy concerns, the government said they did not track or store users’ GPS locations.

Singapore has reported 52,825 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began. Twenty-seven deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus and 15 patients who tested positive were said to have died of other causes. 

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