COVID Alert App Should Be Opened Once a Day, Says Federal Government

Covid alert may 27

The federal government says Canadians should be opening the COVID Alert exposure notification app at least “once a day”.

The news comes from Canadian Digital Service on Thursday, after it said it recently “discovered some phones aren’t running background checks that trigger exposure notifications.”

Last week, CDS said it learned this was due to users turning off Bluetooth or data, or from some smartphones putting apps to sleep.

“Research and discussion with our partners, Google, have shown technical updates to the app aren’t likely to change this,” explains CDS.

Canada’s COVID Alert app is based on Google and Apple’s exposure notification framework, which leverages Bluetooth on devices for anonymous “handshakes” in the background. The app does not use GPS info or collect any user data. It has been vetted as safe by Canada’s privacy commissioner and provincial counterparts.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can anonymously alert others that may have been in contact using COVID Alert, by obtaining a one-time-use key from their provincial health authority.

Back in April, a study from York University said most Canadians have not downloaded COVID Alert. With over 50% of Canadians having now received at one COVID-19 vaccine dose, it remains to be seen whether COVID Alert is still relevant to push in provinces that aren’t supporting it yet?

In B.C., particularly South Vancouver Island, there are currently 28 active cases as of May 26, 2021. Consider ourselves lucky over here.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the COVID Alert app caught 400 COVID-19 cases in April, according to CBC News.

“That’s over 400 chains of infection stopped with the help of COVID Alert in April,” said Hajdu, adding, “I encourage all Canadians to download the COVID Alert app, check it daily and keep it up-to-date.”

Health Canada says COVID Alert only has over 3 million “daily active users”, despite seeing over 6.5 million downloads.

Provinces currently supporting COVID Alert:

  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Northwest Territories

Still waiting for:

  • Alberta  
  • British Columbia  
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon

Download links: 

As of May 25, 2021, COVID Alert has been downloaded 6,548,411 times (6,455,311 on April 12) and 33,168 (25,552 on April 12) one-time keys have been issued. The government’s website now only lists the provinces where the app is not supported, instead of listing provinces and territories where it is supported.

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