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70% of Singapore residents participating in TraceTogether programme: Vivian Balakrishnan

70% of Singapore residents participating in TraceTogether programme: Vivian Balakrishnan

TraceTogether tokens are seen before being distributed to residents at Jalan Besar Community Club in Singapore, Sep 14, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: More than 70 per cent of Singapore residents are participating in the TraceTogether programme, said Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (Dec 23). 

More than 3.8 million people are now using the TraceTogether app or token, said Smart Nation in a media release.

Authorities have earlier set a 70 per cent TraceTogether adoption rate as one of the requirements for Singapore to move to Phase 3 of its reopening. Phase 3 will begin on Dec 28

In a Facebook post, Dr Balakrishnan wrote: "TraceTogether may be the world’s most successful digital contact tracing programme. We have surpassed the 70 per cent participation rate in Singapore."

Speaking to reporters at the Kampong Kembangan Community Club where a token distribution exercise is taking place, Dr Balakrishnan said: “We’ve gone past the 70 per cent participation rate in TraceTogether. There have been more than 2 million people who have downloaded the app and have registered and are using it.

“In addition, since Sep 14, when we started distribution of the TraceTogether tokens, we have distributed so far about 1.75 million tokens. That’s a significant number and I’m very grateful for the trust and confidence of Singaporeans.”

But Dr Balakrishnan also stressed that this is “not a magic number”, given how the national contact tracing programme will be “far more” effective if more people participate in it.

READ: About 25,000 close contacts of COVID-19 cases identified using TraceTogether: Gan Kim Yong

“So let's not stop there. Let’s continue to push along and make this part and parcel of the new normal as we emerge into Phase 3," the minister added.

HIGH DEMAND FOR TOKENS

Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the demand for the free TraceTogether tokens has exceeded authorities’ expectations.

More than 50 per cent of the population at some community clubs have registered and collected tokens, he noted. As such, the Government has increased its order of the tokens.

“Basically by end-February 2021, we would have manufactured and delivered up to 5 million tokens, so that's clearly enough for everybody who needs one,” he said.

“Over the next few weeks and months, as the additional stocks of tokens come in, we will reopen the community centres who currently are not distributing tokens. So I want to emphasise that there is no need to rush."

The public will be informed of the opening dates at these community centres at least three days in advance. Residents can also check the TokenGoWhere website, or the community notice boards for latest updates, said a separate press release from the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office.

The Government will also be commencing distribution of the TraceTogether tokens in schools, although Dr Balakrishnan did not reveal a timeline.

READ: MOE updating timing of requirement for students to use TraceTogether token or app at schools

“Our priority now is to reopen all the community clubs for the community. Once we’ve established that and the stocks are coming, then we can commence distribution in schools so I don't want to put a specific timeline for schools right now,” he told reporters.

The minister reiterated that tokens will not be necessary for smartphone users who have downloaded the TraceTogether app.

“Nevertheless, I recognise that (the token) has become a rather popular or useful item for most people, and hence our decision to make extra," he said.

Mandatory TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-ins will only be imposed when "everyone who needs to or wishes to has access to a token or the app”, added Dr Balakrishnan. 

READ: New SafeEntry Gateway device on trial at Downtown East to make TraceTogether check-ins more convenient

The minister also said that safety precautions like the TraceTogether programme will remain “part and parcel” of life, even with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore.

“Even as we begin the vaccination program, it will take time for us to complete the entire population,” he said.

“Even with vaccination commencing, it is important for us to maintain our safe distancing and our safety measures. You cannot be complacent and we cannot let our guard down. The reason for this is that in the case of vaccination, you are not safe until everyone is safe.

“So therefore, I see that certainly for the whole of next year and perhaps beyond, we will need to continue to take all our health and safety precautions just as we have.”

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Source: CNA/sk

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