357 patients in Singapore erroneously receive SMSes that they tested positive for Covid-19

Due to an IT system glitch, as many as 357 patients in Singapore received erroneous SMSes on May 16 informing them that they had test positive for Covid-19, the Ministry of Health said. Two former Covid-19 patients who received the SMS said they were previously confirmed to be negative and had already been discharged.

Another patient was in D'Resort community isolation facility when he received the message. The next day he was confirmed to be negative by the ministry and discharged.

It read, "Dear patient (name) your COVID test is positive.

  1. Wear a mask and isolate yourself from your household.
  2. Upload your Trace Together Data with the pin *******.
  3. Contact your doctor for medical queries. MOH will contact you soon."

MOH Rectified the Error

An individual using a phone
Representational image Flickr

Once the error was detected, the Ministry of Health immediately took steps to rectify the situation. They sent a follow-up message to all the individuals by 10 pm clarifying the earlier message had been sent by error and apologized for the mistake. "Dear patient, please ignore the previous SMSes sent from MOH today about positive test result. We apologize for the inconvenience and anxiety caused."

In response to Channel News Asia's queries, the MOH said, the messages were sent due to an IT system testing glitch as they sought to improve the efficiency of their system. No confidential information was breached, it added. They have since reviewed their process to ensure similar errors do not occur.

Situation in Singapore

As of Tuesday Singapore reported 28,794 Covid-19 cases, including 451 new cases, while 22 patients have died and more than 1,000 are in hospital. New daily numbers of community cases are at their lowest since mid-March and more migrant workers are recovering, according to an MOH statement. More than 3,000 migrant workers in dormitories are being tested daily by the authorities and over 32,000 workers have been tested as of May 12.

The government plans to conduct mass Covid-19 PCR tests to clear all migrant workers over the coming week.