COVID Alert App Now Lets Healthcare Workers Disable It Temporarily

Canada’s COVID Alert app has been updated to now let healthcare workers disable the app, when they are wearing full medical personal protective equipment. The announcement was made last month and an update on Thursday for COVID Alert has debuted this new on/off toggle switch.

According to the iOS update notes, there is also now the “added ability to let people get rid of exposure messages, so they can get any new notifications.”

COVID Alert has now also “stopped sending exposure notifications to people who have recently reported a positive diagnosis, so they can keep notifying others they’ve been near.”

Once you’ve updated COVID Alert, once you scroll down in the app there’s now a setting to “Turn off COVID Alert” and once you do, a warning pop-up appears, to ensure you’re wearing full PPE.

“This option was created with healthcare workers’ needs in mind to avoid them receiving false notifications. Only people wearing full PPE should turn off the app, and then turn it back on once they are no longer in PPE,” explained Canadian Digital Service.

When you have turned off COVID Alert, the app lets you know clearly that it is off:

Previously, in order to disable COVID Alert healthcare workers had to disable Bluetooth on their device settings, which was not useful if they had other devices that required a connection, such as an Apple Watch or another device.

“We continue to improve the COVID Alert app and encourage everyone in Canada to join the 5.6 million people who have already downloaded it. These new features are designed with the user in mind, to help Canadians better track their exposures,” said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health.

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.

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 (SHAME!)
  • British Columbia (SHAME!)
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon

Download links: 

As of December 6, COVID Alert has been downloaded 5.6 million times, with 7,846 people voluntarily entering in one-time keys, according to the federal government.