COVID-19 exposure notification app now available
OTTAWA — The federal government-backed exposure notification smartphone app has launched, marking the beginning of a new frontier in the coronavirus fight: alerting participating Canadians when they come in proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The app — called COVID Alert and available on Android or Apple devices — will compile anonymized data and use reports from confirmed positive COVID-19 cases to notify Canadians when they’ve been in proximity to someone who has the virus. It has received the stamp of approval from federal and provincial privacy watchdogs, though it leaves infection contact tracing up to public health officials.
While the initial rollout is just underway in Ontario, Canadians across the country are able, and are being encouraged to download the app in anticipation of more provincial and territorial health authorities signing on to use the new software. Talks are ongoing with other provinces to come on board in the coming days, including New Brunswick and British Columbia, with a federal source saying that all Atlantic provinces are “very close” to signing on to use the app.
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Together, let’s slow the spread of COVID-19. Canada’s COVID Alert app notifies you if someone you were near in the past 14 days tells the app they tested positive.
COVID Alert uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby phones. It does not use or access any location data. COVID Alert works by determining how far away other phones are by the strength of their Bluetooth signal.
Several times a day, COVID Alert checks a list of codes from people who tell the app they tested positive. You’ll get a notification if a code you received matches one of the positive codes.
If you test positive for COVID-19 you’ll receive a one-time key with your diagnosis to enter into COVID Alert. The app asks permission to share your random codes from the last 14 days with a central server.
Other phones using COVID Alert check the central server periodically throughout the day. If they recorded any codes that match the codes in the central server, their user will be notified that they were exposed.
COVID Alert has no way of knowing:
-your location – COVID Alert does not use GPS or location services
-your name or address
-the place or time you were near someone
-if you’re currently near someone who was previously diagnosed
Provincial and territorial governments are working to support COVID Alert across Canada. In some places, people cannot yet report a COVID-19 diagnosis through this app.
It’s still helpful to keep COVID Alert on, no matter where you are. That way, when people are able to report a diagnosis, you’ll find out if you were near them.
COVID Alert was built by Health Canada with the Canadian Digital Service on the private exposure notification framework by Apple and Google.