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With Phase 2 here, it’s time to really Trace COVID-19 Together


OpinionsHealth & Body

If putting a TraceTogether token in my bag can make a difference in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, then sign me up for it.

For those of you who, like me, do not own a car, I'm sure you would understand the need to carry a bag everywhere when heading out.

That long checklist before leaving the house. Did I remember to bring along my portable charger, phone charging cable, headphones, facial wipes for when my face gets about as oily as a plate of char kway teow, and a book to read while commuting between places? 

Ok, fine. The book is to add a little bit of weight to the bag, functioning like the props used in movies, so it actually feels like I'm carrying a bag.  It's weird carrying a backpack with not many items in it. 

With Phase 2 finally here, I can't wait to head out again. And that means it's time to take my backpack out from the cupboard, where it has been sitting in, collecting dust for more than two months. 

Of course, I will be bringing a lot more items with me. Like a hand sanitiser, an extra face mask and, when I finally receive it, the TraceTogether token that was announced by the Government earlier this month. 

Like a turtle carrying its shell, I carry my backpack with me everywhere when I head out. 

I was glad to hear that you can slip the small device into your pocket or bag. And given my penchant for misplacing items or not realising that it has fallen out of my pocket (I've lost at least five EZ-link cards in this manner over the years, so believe me when I say this), I'm going to slot it into one of the compartments in my bag to be safe. 

While the token is not available yet, I'm gonna stick to the TraceTogether app when I'm in crowded places. As an iPhone user, the app does drain the battery of my phone pretty quickly - so that's where my portable charger will come in handy.

Because if I can do my part to eradicate COVID-19 once and for all, I will do so. Not just to help us overcome this as a nation, but also because I genuinely want it to end, so that my fiance and I can carry on with our plans. 

It might not apply to everyone, but I know that there are many folks who are frustrated with the disruption the virus has brought into our lives. That includes me. 

I had initially planned to do my pre-wedding photoshoot in Taiwan in November this year. But with so many uncertainties in the aviation sector, my fiancée and I reluctantly made the choice and postponed it to January next year. That has caused a bit of a headache, because we aren't sure if we are still able to get the photo albums in time for the big day in March. 

But I've had it easy. Some have had to cancel their weddings altogether, while many others have lost their jobs and are struggling to get by. Which is why I believe we should all do our part and contribute, whether it is by having a small token on us or using an app on our phone.

If the COVID-19 pandemic doesn't end by next year, I might have to consider having a pre-wedding photoshoot at home and photoshop the background instead... something my fiancée might not appreciate! 

I was intrigued when I read about the petition created against the use of the contact tracing token, and I was definitely surprised to see over 52,000 signatures on it. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm a firm believer in having the freedom of choice. And I'm pretty sure my secondary school teachers will attest to that, after all the times they caught me with an untucked shirt, or not having my nametag on. 

But during this period, the only choice I'm making is for us to get out of this situation as fast as we can.

The petition mentioned that the token will potentially be able to track a person's whereabouts. I would be afraid of that. Imagine having someone know where you are at any point of time - no one would feel comfortable with that. I know, especially after going through my teenage years having to report my whereabouts to my parents every hour. 

But as it turns out, the token can't do that at all. The myth of data tracking has been debunked by Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation initiatives, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. 

Responding on Facebook to a netizen, the minister explained that the token works in similar methods to the TraceTogether app - it uses bluetooth technology to exchange information between tokens or users of the app in close proximity. 

The data collected by the token stays in the device and it doesn't get automatically sent to some big central server somewhere. It is only when a person tests positive for COVID-19, then will he be contacted by MOH for authorities to access the information. 

No, there isn't a server room with millions of computer units storing data like you see in movies.

Minister Vivian even said that GovTech will organise a hackathon for software developers to 'tear down' the token to earn the public's trust and also enlist the community to help improve the token. I think this should give us the assurance that there is nothing 'hidden' about the token.

Again, it is important to look at the big picture. This token is going to help us fight the current pandemic, and is not meant for any other purposes. 

Perhaps, it'll be good for the authorities to state that the token will be made obsolete or deleted when Singapore declares itself as virus-free, but that should not be their main priority now. At the very least, the government has dedicated an entire section of the TraceTogether website for issues concerning data privacy, which should provide some sort of assurance for us. 

So, let's all do our part. Because the faster we get rid of COVID-19 once and for all, the faster we can get back to our normal lives - especially so for those who have suffered.

And I would really, really want to be able to travel to Taiwan for that photoshoot and perhaps even a long awaited movie date when Phase 3 kicks in - there are plenty of movies I'm looking forward to!


Want to avoid the crowd outside but unsure what you can do at home? Hop on to Cr8studiosg to watch chat shows, stand-up comedy and music performances! Or visit MehGoWhere.SG for more resources or things to do!

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