1. Singapore suspends reciprocal green lane arrangements with Malaysia, Germany and South Korea for 3 months
Singapore will suspend reciprocal green lane (RGL) arrangements with Malaysia, Germany, South Korea for three months beginning today, 1 February, following a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the three countries.
At the end of the three month suspension period, the RGL arrangements will be reviewed once again. For the moment, travellers who have already been approved to enter Singapore under these RGLs can continue to do so.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Singapore government “regularly reviews its border measures to manage the risk of importation and onward local transmission of COVID-19 from travellers.”
Singapore had suspended RGL arrangements with Indonesia and Japan earlier in December 2020 when the two countries announced temporary bans on the entry of foreign nationals and non-resident foreign nationals respectively.
Under the RGL, approved travellers are able to conduct short-term travel for essential business and official purposes in Singapore for up to 14 days. They must test negative for COVID-19 prior to travel and undergo another test on arrival. They must remain isolated while waiting for their test results and are required to follow a controlled itinerary for the duration of their stay.
Currently, Singapore has ongoing RGL schemes with Brunei and several cities in mainland China including Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang.
For the latest updates on Singapore’s border control measures, travellers can visit the SafeTravel website.
2. SGH: No evidence that symptoms experienced by woman warded after receiving COVID-19 vaccine are side effects
Responding to a comment made by a patient who reported experiencing symptoms after taking the COVID-19 vaccine, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has released a statement to clarify that there is currently no evidence that her symptoms are related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a Facebook post released on Sunday, 31 January, the hospital has said that its doctors have performed multiple tests on the woman, and that they will continue to monitor her condition and conduct tests as needed.
The comment in question was made by Ms Charlene Lin, 37, who wrote that she felt dizzy and suffered weakness in her legs after receiving the vaccine.
Ms Lin had received the first dose of the vaccine on 24 January. Subsequently, she experienced dizziness and visited SGH’s emergency department. She was later discharged after undergoing various tests but was warded the next day after being unable to walk due to weakness in her legs.
The MOH announced on 28 January that there had been 432 incidents of adverse events linked to the COVID-19 vaccinations. Symptoms included injection site pain and swelling, fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, giddiness, nausea and allergic reactions such as itch, rash, swelling of eyes or lips. Most of these symptoms resolved on their own within a few days.
Three individuals suffered a severe allergic reaction—anaphylaxis, but they recovered and were discharged after a day. Their symptoms included rashes, breathlessness, lip swelling, throat tightness and giddiness.
Thus far, more than 113,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine.
The MOH plans to introduce a vaccine injury financial assistance programme to support those who suffer serious adverse events that are likely related to COVID-19 vaccines administered in Singapore.
The programme will comprise a one-time payout of up to S$10,000 to those who were hospitalised with serious side effects, and require care in the high dependency or intensive care unit. Individuals who die or suffer from permanent severe disability as a result of the vaccination will be eligible for a one-time payout of S$225,000.
3. ComfortDelGro to trial ride-hailing service from 4 February onwards
Singapore taxi operator ComfortDelGro will be adding 25 private-hire cars to its fleet as part of a ride-hailing trial. These cars will not be doing street hires, but will be available for booking from 4 February onwards.
Users will be able to make bookings through the ComfortDelGro app. They will have the choice to book a taxi, or either a taxi or private-hire car, similar to Grab’s JustGrab option.
Pricing for their ride-hailing service will follow its current ComfortRIDE fare structure, which comprises a minimum charge of S$6 and a dynamic pricing structure that varies depending on market demand and supply.
ComfortDelGro has also added that its commission fee will be lower than the market rate during this trial, allowing greater earnings for early participants.
The trial is slated to end in March, after which ComfortDelGro will assess response to this service and gradually open it up to more private-hire car drivers.
ComfortDelGro is currently Singapore’s biggest taxi company with over 10,000 cabs. By adding more private cars, it can quickly expand its fleet without having to actually own the vehicles.
4. WhatsApp Web and desktop app introduce biometric authentication
According to The Verge, WhatsApp will be adding another layer of security when linked up on the web browser or desktop app—biometric authentication.
This new feature will be enabled by default on any iPhone running on iOS 14 and above with Touch or Face ID, as well as any Android devices with biometric authentication enabled.
To link your WhatsApp account to WhatsApp Web or the desktop app, WhatsApp will first have to be unlocked on your phone.
Users who do not have biometric authentication or have it disabled will still be able to link their WhatsApp account as per its current method. The added biometric authentication feature is meant to prevent anyone from linking your WhatsApp account to another web browser if they have your phone.
It should be noted that this biometric authentication feature does not access or collect users’ facial scans or fingerprint data. Instead, it uses the same biometric data API that other apps use to access the on-device security system.
The update is slated to be rolled out on compatible devices in the next few weeks.