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Europe reaches worldwide for digital health certificate standards

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Europe is reaching out to countries around the world to work towards standards for digital health passes in the fight against COVID-19. But within the EU, hundreds of thousands of migrants are excluded from vaccination campaigns.

Arriving at international standards for digital vaccine certificates could be taking a step closer with an agreement between Singapore the European Union.

In the absence of agreements on digital health passes, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warns of the potential for chaos in airports, as airport processing times have doubled to around 3 hours per passenger despite traveller volumes reaching only 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The organization warns that time spent in airports could reach 5.5 hours per trip at 75 percent of previous traffic levels, and 8 hours with the number of travellers flying previously.

Singapore

The two parties are forming a ‘digital agreement’ which could help with international travel, according to Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, speaking at the Sweden-South-east Asia Business Reset Summit 2021, reports the Straits Times.

The broad agreement is intended to allow the countries to seek opportunities in the digital economy, which has become even more critical due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The island nation is also rolling out a breath test which can detect COVID-19 within a minute. A trial is beginning at a bridge border checkpoint between Malaysia and Singapore in the next few days, reports the Straits Times in another article.

The swabless breathalyser technology was developed by Breathonix, a spin-off from the National University of Singapore, and has been provisionally authorized by Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority.

Travellers simply breathe into a disposable one-way-valved mouthpiece of the BreFence Go COVID-19 Breath Test System and the volatile organic compounds in the breath are analyzed by a mass spectrometer.

Morocco

Morocco is to adopt digital travel certificates for vaccinated people and those with a negative PCR test, reports Yabiladi, which would initially be for people residing in Morocco but eventually be extended to Moroccans abroad.

Yabiladi also understands that Moroccan authorities have been discussing a document sent to them by the European Commission to “create a joint committee to deal with interoperability and mutual recognition of Moroccan and European certificates.”

Currently only the draft vaccination certificate has been presented to the committee of Moroccan ministries working on the systems. The certificate will be made up of digital identity data, such as the CNIE, CS or passport number, along with vaccination details and an authentication component with 2D barcodes using a double encryption mechanism.

Those who have been vaccinated will be able to download these certificates – after authentication and an OTP – from the liqahcorona.ma portal. The certificate’s QR will be readable by smartphone and barcode scanners and the application will be made available to public and private entities.

Italy

More than 700,000 foreign citizens in Italy are currently ‘invisible’ and cannot access COVID-19 vaccinations without a health insurance card or tax code, according to the health director of the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty, reports ANSA.

Gianfranco Costanzo said immigrants from non-EU countries living in Italy are unable to book in for vaccinations on regional platforms as they do not have the necessary documents. The issue is also affecting thousands of EU citizens.

Costanzo says that immigrants who have been issued with STP cards for urgent medical care are also entitled to vaccinations. Cards are available after spending three months in Italy or for those seeking asylum.

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