The federal government has announced COVID Alert for iOS and Android has been updated to now send more precise notifications, “based on a more precise timeline,” in line with what was previously mentioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The update means those tested positive for COVID-19 and who request a one-time key from their public health authority, will now have options to enter their date of first symptoms or testing date. The result means a “better estimation of the period when they may have been most infectious to others,” explains Health Canada.
Another part of COVID Alert’s update will now notify users of potential exposures during the time period when those who tested positive were most infectious, which Health Canada says better aligns with current health guidance.
Health Canada says these new features are optional and any data shared remains on devices and will not be shared.
“As we continue to work together to limit the spread of the virus, COVID Alert is an additional tool you can use to protect yourself and your [loved] ones. We continue to improve the app to encourage you to join the more than 4.9 million who have already downloaded it,” said Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health, in a statement.
This is what COVID Alert’s one-time key message was BEFORE:
…and here is the new one-time key screenshot in the updated COVID Alert app:
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.
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 resolve the issue.
As of October 28, COVID Alert has been downloaded 4.9 million times, with over 2,800 people voluntarily entering in one-time keys.