Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has joined forces with the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) to develop an app called ‘Trace Together’, which enables government officials to improve contact tracing by detecting people exposed to COVID-19-infected individuals.

According to Mothership, Jason Bay, Senior Director of Government Digital Services at GovTech, said that “the app is the world’s first nationwide contact tracing effort via Bluetooth, even though other countries might have their own model”.

It is simple to use and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. One can use the app after downloading it and turning on the Bluetooth feature on his or her mobile device. This feature allows the app to estimate the distance and duration of the encounters and identify those in close contact with a COVID-19 positive case.

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All records will be locally stored on the phone for 21 days. The app won’t be available for download after the virus outbreak stops.

Singapore is not the first country to come up with tech to curb the virus spread. Recently, Indonesia launched a chatbot on WhatsApp to prevent misinformation on COVID-19. Singapore also has a similar chatbot feature.

While there are some concerns over the data privacy, Janil Puthucheary, a senior minister of Singapore, told The Star that the engineering of the app has preserved the privacy of the users from each other. The data stored on users’ phones will be encrypted and the app will not be able to access information such as user location.

Image Credit: Catherine Lai

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