Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s COVID Alert app is set to be updated with accuracy improvements.
“We’ve always had to try and find that right balance and what we did was create an app that’s totally private, totally anonymized and totally voluntary by the user,” said the Prime Minister, according to CTV News.
Trudeau added, “We are looking at doing a better job of pinpointing moments of exposure and moments of testing so that the app can be even more accurate.”
The Prime Minister’s description of the upcoming update hints at what B.C.’s top doctor wants from COVID Alert—more specific times when it comes to recording a potential exposure.
B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Monday the province was not ready to adopt the app yet. “What we really would like to see is an app that we could download when we’re at a celebration or a party or a church service, so that we can identity those specific times when there may have been somebody with COVID who was in that vicinity.”
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 from their provincial health authority.
B.C. and Alberta remain as the lone two provinces still yet to adopt COVID Alert. Trudeau said he hopes both provinces will listen to residents and support the app.
“I really hope that B.C. and Alberta listen to the many British Columbians and Albertans who would love to have this additional tool. It’s not the panacea, it’s not the one thing that’s going to fix everything, but it is another important tool in your toolbox that has prevented thousands of cases across the country,” added Trudeau.
Provinces currently supporting COVID Alert:
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Still waiting for:
- British Columbia
- Northwest Territories
Recently, the government of Canada acknowledged there was a bug within the COVID Alert app, and urged Canadians to update to iOS 14.0.1 to fix the issue.
As of October 25, 2020, the COVID Alert app has been downloaded 4,861,882 times and 2,629 one-time keys have been issued, according to the federal government.