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14.11.2020 | COVID-19 | Invited Papers | Ausgabe 1/2021 Zur Zeit gratis

International Orthopaedics 1/2021

The experience of contact tracing in Singapore in the control of COVID-19: highlighting the use of digital technology

International Orthopaedics > Ausgabe 1/2021
Sean Han Sheng Lai, Camelia Qian Ying Tang, Asok Kurup, Gowreeson Thevendran
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Containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic would require aggressive contact tracing and isolation of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. Models in published literature have suggested that digital rather than manual contact tracing might be more effective in containing the pandemic. This article seeks to examine the forms of contact tracing that Singapore, a highly dense city-state, adopts with a focus on new innovations including the use of digital technology.


An exploratory literature search in PubMed, MEDLINE and EMBASE for studies reviewing technological approaches and responses to COVID-19 was performed. Information published by national agencies was also analysed to ascertain how technology was utilised in contact tracing.


Contact tracing in Singapore is overseen by the Ministry of Health (MOH). COVID-19 cases are interviewed on their whereabouts during a backward and forward activity mapping process to identify close contacts. Extensive contact tracing even involving the police and serological tools have helped to establish links between cases and closed several local clusters. Examination of patient’s digital footprint has helped in contact tracing. Other digital technology introduced includes SafeEntry and TraceTogether. SafeEntry is a cloud-based visitor registration system while TraceTogether is a mobile phone application which operates by exchanging anonymised identifiers between nearby phones via Bluetooth connection.


Digital contact tracing is likely to expand and continue to complement human-based contact tracing for the current and future pandemics. However, at this juncture, it is not ready to replace the manual and meticulous work that only Singapore contact tracers can achieve.

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