Philippines explores Singaporean-based contact tracing app to assist government in containing rapid spread of COVID-19

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies, is looking into Singapore-based app ‘TraceTogether’ as one of the promising tools for addressing the rapid spread of the COVID-19 health crisis currently ravaging the country.TraceTogether is a community-driven contact tracing app launched back in March. The app works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other app users who are within about two to five-meter proximity. Records of encounters between app users will be stored locally in the users’ phones. If one app user tested positive for COVID-19, authorities will be then able to identify other app users who were in close contact with the patient.

In his letter addressed to Singaporean Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong, DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan said that ICT-enabled tools could assist in addressing the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines, and requested more details and information about the app.

In response, Ambassador Ho Wei Hong said Singapore is willing to provide technical assistance to DICT regarding the matter.

The DICT, as a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID), recognizes the need for systems to identify, screen and assist Filipinos suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. These include contact-tracing systems that will minimize, if not prevent, the local spread of the coronavirus through the use of information and communications technology.

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