Use of TraceTogether, SafeEntry to continue till COVID-19 is endemic
Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary estimated that the current contact tracing methods have prevented 290 deaths and 144,000 cases.
The TraceTogether and SafeEntry systems will not be phased out any time soon, but will continue till COVID-19 is no longer an epidemic, said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary on Thursday (Mar 3).
His statement was in response to Mr Leon Perera of the Workers’ Party, who asked what criteria the Ministry of Health would base on to decide when to phase out the two apps.
“We need to wait until we no longer need vaccine-differentiated measures. We need to make sure, wait until we’re quite sure that the pandemic and COVID-19 is no longer epidemic, but is endemic,” Dr Puthucheary said.
In Parliament, he pointed out how both measures for contact tracing have enabled quick issuing of health risk warnings and notices, keeping fatalities at bay and slowing down the spread of COVID-19.
He also cited a British study which found that automated approaches to contact tracing would save lives.
Extrapolating the results of the study to Singapore’s context, he said: “The estimate is that between September 2021 and January 2022, comparing similar data sets over those four or five months, the contact tracing approach that we’ve taken in Singapore may have saved about 290 deaths and slowed down the progression to avoid about 144,000 cases.”
In Parliament, Mr Perera had also noted the compliance burdens placed on businesses with regards to enforcing the check-in measures.
In response, Dr Puthucheary said that continuing in this manner was the easiest, cheapest and “least burdensome” way for businesses, rather than to implement a new system.
He added: “We aim to keep rules and requirements simple and we regularly review the need for these.
“We will continue to rationalise and simplify our safe management measures.”