There was also a “TraceTogether” program during the fight against SARS in 2003 by NTUC

Contact tracing has become an integral part of our lives since the COVID-19 outbreak. Our TraceTogether app seems to be more active than Facebook, Instagram or even Tinder.

But have you ever wondered what it was like during the SARS crisis?

Apparently, they also had their own method of contact tracing and “TraceTogether”.

I was 1 year old when this outbreak occurred, and I was clearly living under a rock at the time. Now that I’m much older, I did some research and let’s just say I was amazed.

What was it like during SARS

Photo: Business Insider

If you have no idea what SARS is, think of it as the dear brother of COVID-19. It is a virus with similar symptoms including headache, body aches and cough.

However, SARS patients only become contagious when they develop a fever. Unlike with COVID-19, whenever I sneeze or cough at MRT, people will all turn to look at me like I’m a celebrity.

The virus began in 2002 and ended two years later in 2004, infecting more than 8,000 people from 29 countries and causing at least 774 deaths worldwide.

Well, compared to the victims of COVID-19, it seems that SARS is completely harmless.

But in general, Singaporeans are always kiasu, so we will think of ways to reduce the outbreak and keep it under control.

What kind of measures have been taken to control SARS?

Photo: Department of Public Service

There were also standard procedures such as temperature checks and wearing masks for catfish at the time.

School children aged 6-16 years had to perform mandatory temperature monitoring twice daily from April 30 to July 25, 2003.

Of course, there was contact tracing back then too – so you’ll know who to avoid or if people will avoid you like zombies.

NTUC Contact Trace

During the SARS period, they actually used a card system to help Singaporeans fight SARS.

At that time, even Instagram was not yet born, so obviously we can’t use a smartphone because the phones weren’t smart enough.

Therefore, we use…Drum roll please… pen and paper system.


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Photo: Reddit

All you have to do is fill in your details and drop the card into the designated receptacles at the places you visited. After 2 weeks, all cards will be destroyed if there is no contact status.

By doing so, you will also have a chance to win prizes from lucky draw. They didn’t mention what the awards were, but hey, at least there was something to bring home.

Feedback from Internet users

Most netizens felt that using lucky draws and encouraging stubborn uncles and aunts to keep track of their contacts was an interesting idea.

Photo: Reddit
Photo: Reddit

It’s hard to imagine what 20 years could do, isn’t it?

Photo: Reddit

Do we have a vaccine against SARS?

Strangely enough, we didn’t have a vaccine against SARS but already had three or even four injections of COVID-19. There are also many types of vaccines to choose from, just like shopping for handbags or shoes.

SARS killed about one in ten infected people and was considered fatal. But it’s gone now, unlike COVID-19 that is here to stay (forever).


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Featured Image: Reddit & Mediacorp

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