During the SARS Crisis in 2003, There Was Also ‘TraceTogether’ in S’pore


Last Updated on 2022-10-09 , 7:26 pm

Contact tracing has become an integral part of our lives ever since the COVID-19 outbreak. Our TraceTogether app seems to be more active than Facebook, Instagram, or even Tinder.

But have you ever wondered what it was like during the SARS crisis?

Apparently, they also had their own method of contact tracing and “TraceTogether”.

I was one year old when that outbreak happened so obviously I was living under a rock back then. Now that I’m so much older, I did some research and let’s just say that I was mind-blown.

What Was the Situation Like During SARS

Image: Business Insider

In case you have no clue what SARS is, think of it as the sibling of our dear COVID-19. It is a virus with similar symptoms including headache, body aches, and cough.

However, SARS patients are only infectious once they developed a fever. Unlike COVID-19, whenever I sneeze or cough in the MRT, people will all turn to look at me as though I am a famous celebrity.

The virus started out back in 2002 and ended two years later in 2004, infecting over 8,000 people from 29 countries and causing at least 774 deaths worldwide.

Well, compared to the casualties of COVID-19, SARS seem to be quite harmless.

But in general, Singaporeans are always kiasu so we will think of ways to minimise the outbreak and keep it in control.

What Kind of Measures Were Taken To Keep SARS In Control? 

Image: Public Service Division

There were also standard procedures like temperature screenings and wearing of masks to catfish people back then.

School children from 6 to 16 years of age had to do a compulsory twice-daily temperature monitoring from 30 April to 25 July 2003.

Of course, there was contact tracing back then too—so you will know who to avoid or whether people will avoid you like a zombie.

NTUC Contact Tracing 

During the SARS period, they actually used a card system to help Singaporeans fight against SARS.

Back then, even Instagram was not born yet, so obviously we couldn’t use a smartphone as phones weren’t smart enough.


Therefore, we use a…drum roll please…a pen-and-paper system.

Image: Reddit

All you need to do is to fill in your details and drop the card in designated bowls at the places you have visited. After two weeks, all cards will be destroyed if there is no case of contact.

By doing so, you will also stand a chance to win prizes from their lucky draw. They did not mention what the prizes were, but hey, at least there was something to bring home.

Reactions From Netizens 

Most netizens felt that it is an interesting idea to use lucky draws and encourage stubborn uncles and aunties to do their contact tracing.

Image: Reddit
Image: Reddit

Hard to imagine what 20 years can do, eh?

Image: Reddit

Did We Have a Vaccine For SARS? 

The strange thing is we did not have a vaccine for SARS but we already have three or even four injections for COVID-19. There are also many types of vaccines to choose from, just like shopping for handbags or shoes.

SARS killed about one in ten infected people and was deemed lethal. But it is now gone, unlike COVID-19 that’s here to stay (forever).

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Featured Image: Reddit & Mediacorp