More “blunderbuss” approach in contact tracing: responsible for the Ministry of Health

Medical Services Director Kenneth Mak, who is part of the multi-ministerial COVID-19 task force, speaks to reporters at a virtual press conference on Monday, November 8, 2021. (PHOTO: Ministry of Communications and Information)

SINGAPORE – Health authorities are no longer taking a “blunderbuss” approach to contact tracing.

Instead, it is now focusing on environments such as hospitals and nursing homes where vulnerable people may have been at risk of transmission, the ministry’s director of medical services (DMS) said on Monday (November 8). Health, Kenneth Mak.

While the authorities have not given up on contact tracing and epidemiological investigations, the approach is much more targeted, and not a “blunderbuss” approach where very aggressive contact tracing and isolation of people are carried out. different sectors.

“We are focusing on places where we have concerns about the exposure of vulnerable people, where potential transmission may occur to vulnerable people,” said Prof. Mak, who spoke at a conference. virtual press by the multi-ministerial working group on COVID-19 (MTF).

“We are therefore particularly meticulous when it comes to tracing contacts in hospitals, in health facilities, in nursing homes, in institutional establishments, in schools, in preschools, where we have interest in ensuring that those who are not able to be vaccinated, that we are able to protect them more by ensuring to disrupt these chains of transmission. ”

Professor Mak was answering a question from Yahoo News Singapore on the extent to which contact tracing is still carried out, given that there are thousands of new cases of COVID every day as the city-state moves into the endemic phase of the pandemic.

MTF did not respond to Yahoo News Singapore additional query on when use of the controversial TraceTogether app, which facilitates contact tracing, might end. In January, it was revealed that police have the power under the Criminal Procedure Code to obtain TraceTogether data to use in criminal investigations, despite previous assurances from Minister in charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan.

Prof Mak noted that although some contact tracing occurs in relation to other clusters, such as in hawker centers, the responsibility is shared between the Ministry of Health and other agencies. “They will take the relevant and appropriate actions to disrupt the spread, including shutting down and shutting down the premises for cleaning, educating and initiating more testing that takes place within these settings themselves.”

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