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Trials for world’s first digital ‘health passport’ underway

The world’s first coronavirus digital “health passport” is being tested to enable people to travel without having to quarantine at their places of destination.

If successful, it could enable safe flying and reopening of borders.

 

The technology which is being tested on travelers using two of the world’s biggest airlines – United Airlines and Cathay Pacific – and flying between London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, is backed by the World Economic Forum.

 

Additional airlines with routes across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East will follow after.

 

The ‘CommonPass’ as it is known, has been developed by the Commons Project Foundation, a Swiss-based non-profit company that focuses on digital services for the common good.

The volunteer passengers will upload their coronavirus test results from a validated laboratory onto a digital health pass – on their mobile phones through an application – up to 72 hours before departure.

The airlines, and airport and border officials, will be able to scan the digital data on the pass to see if a person is free of the virus.

If the trials of the scheme are successful, it will allow passengers to reduce their time in quarantine in line with the self-isolation regulations and health requirements in whichever country they arrive.

The aim is to create a standardised global testing system in which governments and airlines can trust passengers’ results because they are from reputable laboratories and on a recognised health passport.

The Commons Project said in a statement that the CommonPass has been designed to protect personal data in compliance with relevant privacy regulations, including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“With trusted individual health data, countries can implement more nuanced health screening requirements for entry,” Dr. Bradley Perkins, the Chief Medical Officer of the Commons Project noted.

According to the pioneers, the pass is a result of a convening that brought together 350 public and private leaders from 52 countries in July to design a common framework for safe border reopening.

Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility at the World Economic Forum believes individual national responses alone will not be sufficient to address the global crisis.

“Bans, bubbles and quarantines may provide short term protection, but developed and developing nations alike need a long-term, flexible and risk-based approach like CommonPass,” he said in a statement.

jbizimungu@newtimesrwanda.com

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