Singapore—While it was announced in October that the country could move to Phase 3 of Singapore’s reopening by the end of the year, experts quoted in the straitstimes.com (ST) are saying that this is unlikely unless more people use the TraceTogether app or token, which is effective for contact tracing.
“At present, it appears we will not be moving to phase three by the end of the year as it appears that token distribution has not achieved a complete coverage of the entire population,” ST quotes the dean of the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, Professor Teo Yik Ying, as saying.
The number of Covid-19 infections in Singapore have been steadily decreasing, and there were no local cases for two weeks in November, which has made people hopeful that more restrictions could be eased.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in Parliament in November that the objective for Phase 3 “is to reach a steady state of permitted economic and social activities until an effective vaccine or treatment is widely available.”
However, the multi-ministry task force assigned to tackle matters related to the pandemic listed three conditions that needed to be met in order for the country to enter phase 3, which are, adequate testing capabilities, safe management compliance and a take-up rate of the Trace Together app or token of 70 per cent.
Approximately 2.9 million people have claimed the token or downloaded the app, according to the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office. This puts the number of adapters at 50.8 per cent, which falls far short of the 70 per cent target.
The ST report quotes the vice-dean of research at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, Associate Professor Alex Cook, as saying, “One of the targets set has been for sufficient numbers of people to have TraceTogether as more effective contact tracing will counter the relaxation in rules. I think we’re not yet at that target, and that may hold us back from advancing a phase.”
By the end of this month, checking in with the TraceTogether app or token will be mandatory at all public venues, starting at movie houses.
The task force said that people will no longer be able to enter these venues via the SafeEntry QR codes with their phone cameras, or through the SingPass mobile app or barcodes on their NRIC when usage of the TraceTogether app or token is compulsory.
TraceTogether tokens are given out one constituency at a time and in at 37 community centres and clubs. —/TISG