Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim asked the Minister for Health in light of the move to living with COVID-19 as an endemic disease (a) what are the medium-term plans for the relaxation of vaccination-differentiated measures; and (b) whether COVID-19 positive status will be treated differently from other endemic diseases, such as influenza or pneumonia.
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim asked the Minister for Health (a) to what extent is TraceTogether data still utilised for contact tracing and COVID-19 management purposes for establishments with a high volume of irregular visitors, such as malls and public attractions; and (b) whether there is any update on the timeline and milestones for the abolition of establishment-entry TraceTogether protocols, given the commencement of streamlined COVID-19 measures.
The Senior Minister of State for Health (Dr Janil Puthucheary) (for the Minister for Health): Sir, may I have your permission Question Nos 10, 11 and 12 in today’s Order Paper together, please?
Mr Speaker: Yes, please.
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Sir, Minister Ong Ye Kung shared the comprehensive reply yesterday to address all of these matters and questions. I would refer the Members to the answers from the Sitting on 4 April 2022.
Mr Speaker: Assoc Prof Jamus Lim.
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim (Sengkang): I thank Senior Minister of State for the reply. I just wish to pose a quick supplementary question and that has to do with something that was not touched on by Minister Ong.
Given the much shorter, incubation and infectious periods for the Omicron and sub-variants, my understanding is that right now, the Health Risk Warnings tend to arrive a few days after exposure. I imagine that this would be even longer for high-volume locations. I wonder whether the Ministry has plans to move to a policy where TraceTogether may be used to automatically alert users of potential exposures and place the onus on individuals to exercise social responsibility for self-isolating, rather than relying on the Health Risk Warning that is proving to be a little bit behind the curve at the moment.
Dr Janil Puthucheary: Sir, as we have explained several times, in this House, indeed, we are moving towards a posture of social responsibility as the key intervention in the fight against COVID-19. The use of TraceTogether and Safe Entry as a platform is currently largely driven by the need for vaccine-differentiated measures.
Certainly, if we need to step-up contact tracing again in the face of an increasing public health risk, the way in which we do that using TraceTogether, SafeEntry, automatic warnings, targeted warnings, will be informed by the characteristics of the variant or the wave of the epidemic at that time.
Ministry of Health
5 April 2022