Singapore’s national airline is testing what it calls “a new digital health verification process,” which will allow passengers to present their coronavirus testing and vaccination status on their mobile or smart phones during travel.
Singapore Airlines said the scheme, which is debuting on Wednesday on flights to the city-state from nearby Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, is “the first in the world”.
The related app “will offer customers the ability to securely store and present information related to COVID-19 tests, as well as their vaccination status in the future.”
Singapore this week became the first Asian country to receive a consignment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, though a timeline for the start of inoculations has not been announced.
While passengers can provide paper certification of a negative coronavirus test, the new process enables airline staff and Singaporean immigration officials “to verify the authenticity of these certificates” and “ensure that the customers meet Singapore’s entry requirements.”
Most Asia-Pacific countries have been reluctant to reopen their borders to travellers since the onset of the pandemic in March.
Singapore has since mid-year permitted entry to tourists from Australia, Brunei, New Zealand and Vietnam, and has set up “reciprocal” business or essential travel deals with countries such as China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea.
The start of another “world-first” – a quarantine-free “travel bubble” linking Singapore with Hong Kong – has been postponed due to a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases.