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Singapore hands out coronavirus tracing devices

Singapore has begun handing over Bluetooth-enabled contact detection devices as part of its measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The so-called TraceTogether chips are an alternative to the government’s contact tracking smartphone app.

They are for people who do not own or prefer not to use a mobile phone.

The announcement of the device has been concerned in some quarters about privacy.

The first batch of devices is distributed to vulnerable elderly people who have little or no family support or who have mobility problems.

The chips have unique QR codes and do not require charging, as they have a battery life of up to nine months.

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The devices work by exchanging Bluetooth signals with other nearby TraceTogether chips or smartphones running the TraceTogether application.

Users will be alerted by a contact tracking officer if they are found to be near a person infected with the coronavirus.

If it is confirmed that they have contracted Covid-19, the data will be downloaded from the device.

Ministers rejected high concerns about user privacy because they argued that they were not designed to label people’s movements.

The Singapore government has said that the data collected by the devices will be encrypted and kept in the token for a maximum of 25 days.

Authorities also said the data could not be accessed remotely because the chips did not have internet or cellular capabilities.

Reopening the economy
Another feature highlighted by the government is that tokens do not have GPS (GPS) connectivity, so they do not collect location data.

The Singapore government has said that since the launch of the TraceTogether smartphone app in March, it has been downloaded by about 2.1 million people.

Authorities said they need to increase participation in the TraceTogether program significantly as Singapore begins to reopen its economy.

Earlier this month, the Singapore government began easing so-called Circuit Breaker blockade measures, including the reopening of non-essential retail stores and refilling allowed back to grocery and beverage stores.

The chips were purchased from a Singapore-based PCI electronics company.

It was announced earlier this month that the company had won the SGD6 million tender (£ 3.5 million; $ 4.3 million) for supplying the first 300,000 devices, which operate at SGD20 on-chip.

On Sunday, authorities reported 213 new infections in Singapore, 11 of which were in the community, with a balance in the homes of foreign workers. This brought the total number of Covid-19 cases to 43,459.

Source: BBC NEWS

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