Z.HUANG1, D.WEE1, E.TAY2, H.GUO1, A.CHOW1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1, National Centre for Infectious Diseases2
Contact tracing is crucial in the containment of COVID-19. Singapore’s national digital contact tracing tool—TraceTogether—attained 70% uptake in December 2020 only after several policy measures. We sought to understand the public’s knowledge, perceptions, and concerns with using TraceTogether under the policy measures.
We surveyed 4097 visitors aged 21 – 80 to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, July 2020 – February 2021, and analysed their free-text responses to two open-ended questions on their knowledge and concerns with TraceTogether. We performed sentiment analysis using natural language processing and the “Syuzhet” sentiment library to compute the sentiment scores, stratified by demographics and time.
Respondents’ knowledge and perceptions of TraceTogether changed from a focus on “contact tracing” and “Bluetooth activation” in July-August 2020 to “QR code scanning” and “location check-ins” in January-February 2021. Younger males (aged <50) had the highest TraceTogether uptake (60%), while older females (aged >50) had the lowest uptake (23.5%) in the first half of July 2020. This trend was reversed by mid-October, after the announcement on mandatory TraceTogether check-ins at public venues. Older females had decreasing sentiment scores (Jul’20: -0.39 vs. Feb’21: -0.71) as their TraceTogether uptake increased. The average sentiment scores were the lowest (-0.62) in January 2021 when the media reported that data collected by TraceTogether was used for criminal investigations.
The public’s knowledge, perceptions, and sentiments of TraceTogether varied with the COVID-19 regulations and public communications. Continual sentiment analysis with the changes in phases post-Circuit Breaker is necessary to ensure policy alignment with the sustained uptake of TraceTogether.