Canada’s COVID Alert has been downloaded 2.2 million times, but only 112 people have voluntarily inputted a one-time key from health authorities to alert others of their positive COVID-19 test.
According to CTV News, the COVID Alert app did its job in notifying an Ottawa resident of potential exposure to COVID-19, which resulted in an actual positive test result.
The story was shared by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches on Wednesday, speaking to reporters, as an example of why COVID Alert is an important app to download for Canadians.
“We just learned of our first individual who was notified through the COVID Alert App that he had been in close contact with someone who has then gone on to test positive for COVID-19. And that person then went for testing, and also tested positive for COVID-19,” said Etches during a media availability.
COVID Alert uses the Exposure Notification framework from Apple and Google. It allows devices to have anonymous digital “handshakes” in the background using Bluetooth. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to alert others with the app by inputting a one-time use key from local health authorities.
“This is useful. The more people that download the COVID-19 App the better. It will help us the larger percentage of the population that uses the app,” added Etches.
Earlier this morning, Newfoundland and Labrador launched support for COVID Alert, while yesterday, Saskatchewan announced it would debut the app in a couple week’s time. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today talks are in place to bring more provinces and territories on board.
Even if your provincial health authority does not support COVID Alert yet, the app can still work in the background on your device, and receive exposure notifications from others. You just won’t be able to share a positive COVID-19 diagnosis with others using the app.