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TraceTogether adoption rate surpasses 70%, more distribution points to reopen from January 2021

SINGAPORE — Singapore on Monday (Dec 21) surpassed the 70-per-cent adoption rate for its TraceTogether contact-tracing tool, allowing it to move into its final phase of reopening after a partial lockdown to combat Covid-19, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

TraceTogether adoption rate surpasses 70%, more distribution points to reopen from January 2021

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan speaks to a senior collecting her TraceTogether token at Kampong Kembangan Community Club on Dec 23, 2020.

  • The TraceTogether adoption rate surpassed the Government’s 70-per-cent target on Dec 21, said Minister Vivian Balakrishnan 
  • The Government aims to produce and deliver up to five million tokens by February 2021 as many Singaporeans still want them
  • As more stocks become available in the coming weeks and months, token distribution points in community clubs that are now shut will reopen 
  • The tokens will also be distributed in schools

 

SINGAPORE — Singapore on Monday (Dec 21) surpassed the 70-per-cent adoption rate for its TraceTogether contact-tracing tool, allowing it to move into its final phase of reopening after a partial lockdown to combat Covid-19, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

The Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative told reporters on Wednesday that more than two million people have downloaded the TraceTogether mobile application and 1.75 million tokens have been distributed.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a token distribution exercise at the Kampong Kembangan Community Club.

The 70-per-cent target was among the requirements set by the authorities before Singapore can enter its third and final phase of reopening, which starts next Monday. 

With many Singaporeans still keen on collecting the tokens, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) said that the Government is building up stocks.

Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Foreign Affairs Minister, said that up to five million tokens are expected to be produced and delivered by the end of February next year.

The distribution of tokens began at community clubs on Sept 14 and the last six clubs — including Kampong Kembangan Community Club — opened for collection on Wednesday.

As extra stocks become available in the next few weeks and months, the authorities will reopen all distribution points in community clubs that are presently closed. This will happen progressively from January next year.

SNDGO said that the public would be told of the opening dates at the community clubs at least three days in advance. Residents may visit the TokenGoWhere website or check community notice boards for the latest updates.

Dr Balakrishnan stressed that there is no need to rush: “There will be a token distribution point near you.” 

Tokens will also be given out through schools in the new year, he said. 

The Ministry of Education said earlier that all schools would roll out the SafeEntry check-in system, requiring students to use the TraceTogether token or app once everyone in Singapore has a chance to collect the tokens. Students do not need to have their tokens when schools reopen from Jan 4. 

Dr Balakrishnan declined to commit to a schedule for the distribution exercise in schools when queried. He would only say that the priority was to reopen distribution points in community clubs and schools would start distribution thereafter.

SNDGO reiterated that TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-ins would be rolled out only after everyone has had a chance to collect a token and a reasonable period of national distribution is achieved.

Asked when the Government would stop the distribution of tokens islandwide, Dr Balakrishnan said that the authorities would “leave it open”.

“There will always be a need for some people, if there are any technical problems or batteries have reached the end of life. So there will always be a need to keep availability of tokens for distribution.”

SHORTAGE OF COMPONENTS LED TO DELAYS

With demand for TraceTogether tokens far exceeding the Government’s expectations, several distribution points were hit by roll-out delays and suspensions.

Dr Balakrishnan said that this was due in part to a global shortage of electronic components. 

Elaborating on the higher-than-expected demand, he said: “In some community clubs, more than 50 per cent of the population registered and collected tokens. So that means we have had to increase our order of tokens.”

POSSIBLE MASS PRODUCTION OF SAFEENTRY GATEWAYS

Separately, Dr Balakrishnan said that the authorities were looking at the possibility of mass-producing SafeEntry Gateways after a trial yielded positive results. These devices have been tested at three entrances at the Downtown East entertainment hub in Pasir Ris since the start of October. 

The process is similar to using an EZ-Link card on public transport. The SafeEntry Gateway detects active TraceTogether app and token users, and records visitors’ check-ins by exchanging Bluetooth signals.

Token users must bring their tokens within 5cm to 15cm of the device to check in. Those using the mobile app must turn on Bluetooth, open the app and bring their phones close to the device. 

Based on the results from the trial so far, the SafeEntry Gateway has been popular and people have found it easy to use, said Dr Balakrishnan. 

He added that these gantries could be rolled out to places with high footfall, such as community clubs, hawker centres and shopping complexes, in future.

Dr Balakrishnan was also asked how necessary TraceTogether would be, given that the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines have arrived in Singapore.

He said that even with vaccination starting, it was important for Singaporeans to press ahead with safe distancing and other precautions in the coming year and beyond, to curb Covid-19’s spread. 

“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,” he said. 

“As we transit into Phase Three in a few days' time, it is even more important for all of us to not be complacent, and maintain our guard and appropriate social-distancing precautions.” 

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TraceTogether contact tracing Covid-19 coronavirus Vivian Balakrishnan

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