Coronavirus pandemic

Initiatives on contact tracing to be stepped up and expanded

Customers scanning the SafeEntry QR code at Northpoint City's FairPrice outlet on Thursday. SafeEntry is now being used by essential sector businesses such as supermarkets, clinics and F&B outlets at over 2,100 locations. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Customers scanning the SafeEntry QR code at Northpoint City's FairPrice outlet on Thursday. SafeEntry is now being used by essential sector businesses such as supermarkets, clinics and F&B outlets at over 2,100 locations. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Contact tracing initiatives are being stepped up, as part of plans to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

For example, the national digital check-in system SafeEntry, which tracks the entry and exit of individuals at premises, is already mandatory for some establishments.

Its use will be expanded and details shared in due course, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, when asked if SafeEntry would be made compulsory for all premises.

As for the TraceTogether app, Mr Wong did not say if it would be compulsory for everyone to download it, but said the Government was working with companies like Apple and Google to update some of the protocols so that the app can be more effective. "And as we do so, we will share more details," he said.

TraceTogether, which was launched in March, logs smartphone users' interactions by exchanging Bluetooth radio signals between nearby phones.

The app also collects the mobile numbers of individuals and stores them centrally for contact tracing.

Currently, 1.1 million people - or less than one-fifth of the population - have downloaded the app.

However, Mr Wong had previously said that at least three-quarters of the population need to download the app for it to be truly effective in digital contact tracing.

SafeEntry, which was rolled out last month, is now being used by essential sector businesses such as supermarkets, clinics and food and beverage outlets at more than 2,100 locations.

Users can check in and check out of a venue using the SafeEntry portal by scanning a QR code on their own mobile devices.

The system also logs key information - including name, NRIC number and mobile number.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2020, with the headline Initiatives on contact tracing to be stepped up and expanded. Subscribe