Singapore—Progress Singapore Party (PSP) politician Brad Bowyer commented on the recent news that the country cannot yet enter phase 3 of reopening because not enough people are using the TraceTogether token or app for contact tracing.

In October, the multi-ministry task force assigned to tackle matters related to the Covid-19 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 Trace Together of 70 per cent.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office has said that approximately 2.9 million people have claimed the token or downloaded the app, which puts the number of adapters at 50.8 per cent, falling far short of the 70 per cent target.

Phase 3’s aim is for Singapore “to reach a steady state of permitted economic and social activities until an effective vaccine or treatment is widely available,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament last month.

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Mr Bowyer, however, points out that more people would rather use the token than the app, as adapters have found that it drains the batteries of mobile phones quickly. There are also “questions around it’s functionality and whether it will leave traces” when the pandemic is over, he added.

But the token is yet to be made widely available, the PSP politician pointed out.

“I know that all 3 CC’s designated for my address have told us they have been pushing for stock for a month or more yet still don’t have it… The question is why?,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday, Dec 8.

Since it was announced a few months ago that TraceTogether would be required by this month, Mr Bowyer asked why the provision for the token has “not been adequately made,” given that more people seem to prefer it to the app.

Furthermore, he asked whether using TraceTogether is needful at this point.

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“I would also hazard a guess that alongside the privacy and battery draining concerns many may also be asking that given we have had virtually no cases for so long is this even necessary?

After all the system of manual contact tracing we developed after Sars worked fine for us even when Covid was at its peak so why this continued push for Tracing now?”

Perhaps it’s time to shelve it altogether, he added.

“Given when the App was first mooted before the GE and concerns were raised it was promised that it would not be mandatory anyway, the conditions now seem to render it unnecessary and the stocks of the preferred tokens are lacking maybe it is time to shelve it altogether and not waste any more time and resources on this issue and focus on moving to phase 3 without this purely arbitrary requirement as a barrier for moving forward…

That would seem the better choice wouldn’t it… What do you think?” —/TISG

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Read also: Experts say Phase 3 not likely by year-end unless more people use TraceTogether

Making TraceTogether mandatory seems to contradict Vivian Balakrishnan’s pre-election assurances