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Singapore launches smartphone app for efficient COVID-19 contact tracing

ANI  |  Asia 

Singapore on Friday launched a smartphone application 'Tracetogether' that allows local authorities to quickly track people who have been in close proximity to confirmed coronavirus cases in the city-state.

The app, created by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH), identifies people who have been in close proximity -- within 2 meters of the user and for at least 30 minutes -- to coronavirus patients by using wireless Bluetooth technology, as per a report by The Strait Times.

By downloading the app and enabling push notification and location permissions, users can help authorities easily identify potential cases. It works like this -- Should one of the app users be tested positive for coronavirus, the Ministry of Health will able to quickly find out which other users they had been in close contact with.

The developers said that the application would be particularly useful in cases where the infected persons do not know everyone whom they had been in close proximity with for an extended duration.

Singapore has so far reported 313 cases of the novel coronavirus. Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 209,000 people and killed more than 8,700 others, as per the latest data available on the Health Organisation.

Users would have to give explicit consent to participate in TraceTogether and for their mobile number and data to be used for contact tracing, as per a release by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO).

"When requested by MOH, users can send their TraceTogether logs to facilitate the contact tracing process. Up to that point, the authorities, including MOH and GovTech, have no knowledge of the user's TraceTogether data," said SNDGO.

It may be noted that records of the encounters of users will be stored locally in their smartphones and they will be only be asked to share these records with the concerned authorities when contacted by the Ministry of Health during the tracing procedure. At that point, if they refuse, they may be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 20 2020. 20:01 IST