“Every second or every minute of delay means an additional second or additional minute where the virus can transmit to someone else,” said Associate Professor Vernon Lee, Director at the Ministry of Health, at the STACK 2020 Conference. He stressed the importance of utilising digital solutions to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore.
Singapore’s COVID-19 strategy was premised on four different building blocks; prevention, detection, care and containment. Digital tools were implemented as technological enablers to integrate data systems across different sectors including the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Health to enhance detection and containment. Digital tools were also used in community outreach and enabled rapid tracking and isolation via analytical tools and surveillance technology. One such tool was the Patient Risk Profile Portal (PRPP), a one stop portal to support COVID-19 related operations. This way, a seamless patient experience is achieved in the primary care setting. In Singapore, primary care is provided through the network of clinics ran by general practitioners and outpatient polyclinics.
Contact Tracing Technologies
Contact tracing was vital in the containment of COVID-19 in Singapore. Singapore’s strategy saw the use of digital and manual methods to facilitate case identification and contact tracing. Multi data sources from COVID-19 test repository, Safe Entry, Tracetogether and other government admin data are channeled into a single data depository (Vision) for fusion, allowing auto-population of patient data for contact tracers to significantly shortened the time taken to identify and isolate close contacts of COVID-19 cases. These information are also promulgated downstream in the collation of activity maps. The time taken to raise and issue a quarantine order to close contacts, due to the use of these technologies, had been reduced by more than half. Mapping technologies were also used for contact tracing such as the geospatial mapping of unlinked cases and network analysis tools to link cases/clusters.
Rapid Issuing of SHN/QO
Digital tools were central in issuing QO and close monitoring of quarantine of persons under Quarantine Order (QO). Previously, an officer had to issue a QO in-person at the individual’s home which was a laborious task and made more tedious when the individual was not at home. With the new Homer app, quarantine orders are issued via SMS, and the individual could report his/her health status and location on the app, resulting in savings on manpower and time. Digital tools were also useful in facilitating the safe resumption of work for migrant workers. FWMOMCares was used for the health monitoring of migrant workers via health status reports and 24/7 telemedicine while SGWorkpass allowed employers to check eligibility of work based on health, testing and quarantine status of workers.
Moving forward, Singapore aims to strengthen the implementation of digital tools in helping to contain COVID-19. This includes the push for 100% adoption of Safe Entry across multiple venues to determine individuals who were in close proximity to a COVID-19 case and notify them to look out for symptoms. The Trace Together token distribution would facilitate the uptake of Trace Together to determine contacts of COVID-19 cases rapidly and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Digital tools could also be used to enforce safe management measures and calibrate them to develop policies relevant for the population.
Last updated 29 June 2021
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