Health Canada’s COVID Alert app now available for download

Ruben Fields
July 31, 2020

A COVID-19 smartphone app, backed by the federal government, has launched.

If a user tests positive, they can choose to enter a one-time code to send alerts to other users.

While a user in any province can download the app, Canadians outside of Ontario will see the message "We'll let you know as soon as people in your area can report a diagnosis through COVID Alert", until their province links it to their system.

No personal information from the user is collected by the app and does not track the name or location of the user.

"I've downloaded the app this morning, and I encourage you to do the same". "It was developed in consultation with the privacy commissioners of Ontario and Canada to ensure the highest level of privacy".

Officials say the more people who download the app, the more effective it will be and stressed that it is a notification app, not a contact-tracing app.

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The app considers close contact being an interaction that lasts at least 15 minutes and occurs at less than two metres apart, which will be determined by the strength of the signal from each device within that interaction.

Ontarians who receive an exposure alert can then get tested and take action to help keep themselves, their families, and their friends from spreading COVID-19 throughout the community. The federal government is working with other provinces to make it available to residents across the country.

"This important, made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app will be a critical part of our case and contact management strategy as more regions in Ontario enter Stage 3 today", said Premier Doug Ford.

Users will receive an alert if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. "Contact tracing will continue to be performed manually by local public health authorities", the government said in a statement.

The app is not mandatory for Canadians, and can be downloaded voluntarily from Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store. "They were totally aware that there's going to be some hesitancy with people using this app", said Dr. Isaac Bogoch on CTV News Channel.

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