Amidst the battle with COVID-19, Singapore has done a commendable job in containing the virus locally.
Being one of the first places being hit by the virus, we had to be prepared for the uninvited guest.
But how did Singapore managed to stay one step ahead of the virus?
Well, here’s a version by a publication outside of Singapore.
Contact Tracing Programme
There is a total of 6,000 people contact traced to date in Singapore. This is done using a simple telephone call, to CCTV footage, police investigation, and an old fashioned labour-intensive detective work.
Here is an insider on how the contact tracing works:
As reported by BBC, a Singapore-based British yoga teacher, Melissa (not her real name), learnt that she was at risk of contracting the virus on a regular Saturday afternoon.
She first received a phone call from an unknown number, asking if she was in a taxi at 18:47 on Wednesday.
Yes, it’s that specific.
This made her panicked a little, for it was as precise as hitting the bull’s eye. She eventually recalled that she was indeed in that taxi.
And guess what? That particular trip only took six minutes. Yup, just a mere six minutes and an officer at Singapore’s health ministry is already tracing her.
The officer then told her that she needed to be quarantined for 14 days due to close contact with a suspected case.
It was official; three people turned up at her door the next day, wearing jackets and surgical masks. They gave her a quarantine order, which stated that she is not allowed to leave her house. Failing to do so results in a fine and jail time.
Subsequently, after two weeks, she showed no symptoms of COVID-19 and she was free again.
Needlessly to say, she’s one of the many and that probably showed how much effort is being made just to stop the chain of infection – even if it turned out to be negative.
How Contact Tracing Works
Contact tracing in Singapore involves a dedicated team. The police and the Ministry of Health works hand in hand, holding daily teleconferences to exchange information.
In hospitals, contact tracers communicate with patients to identify who they have been in contact with and places they have been. Once they are tested positive, they will hand the information to staff at the Ministry of Health to take over the rest of the job.
From there, the teams from the Ministry of Health gathers further information. There will be difficulties at times, and this is where the police criminal investigation units step in.
At any given day, an average of 30 to 50 officers will be working on contract tracing. Sometimes, it scales up to over 100 officers if need be.
Given our low crime rate, it is possible that police are able to conduct contact tracing as part of their daily duties.
And here is how contact tracing works:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has praised Singapore for being proactive even before the first case was detected.
Together with our contact tracing system, we have the ability to catch up with the rising number of cases.
However, this is made possible due to our high level of surveillance and compliant behaviour from the general population.
In addition, we have an Infectious Diseases Act in place to penalise anyone who refuses to co-operate with the police in their attempts to gather information.
Contact tracing has showed us its effectiveness so far. Nonetheless, the virus will overtake the contact tracers at some point in time.
Until then, we should play our part in keeping our social distancing and practice good hygiene.
We can do this, Singapore!
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