COVID Alert app is now available for download

Yolanda Curtis
July 31, 2020

Ontarians are being urged to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

The plan will see Ontario be the test bed, before it's rolled out across the country.

In addition, while the Android version requires uses to turn on their location settings, officials maintain the app will not know a user's location, name, address, when they were near someone or if they are now near someone who was previously diagnosed.

"We know other provinces will be joining in soon", Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, encouraging people across the country to download the app right away.

The voluntary app tells users if or when they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

"Please everyone download the app and help do your part", said Premier Doug Ford during his daily media briefing on Friday.

The app is the federal government's latest move in the battle to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as Canada's economy gradually reopens.

COVID Alert uses Bluetooth technology to register when devices with the app may come into proximity with one another, and works in the background of users' phones. "You'll get a notification if a code you received matches one of the positive codes", the website states.

The app was designed by Ottawa e-commerce business Shopify.

The ENS API now supports exposure notifications between countries, which Burke says is a feature added based on nations that have already launched apps based on the tech (that includes Canada, as of today, as well as some European nations). The app puts the onus on positive cases to enter in the code they receive from public health, rather than having the health authorities report that data on their behalf. COVID Alert collects no location information or personally identifiable data, and was built by Health Canada with the Canadian Digital Service. The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Officials said the government has been working with federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien's office to address any privacy concerns.

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