Support for the COVID Alert app has launched Manitoba today, following an earlier announcement it would debut this week in the province.
Manitoba joins Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador in supporting the exposure notification app, allowing users to obtain one-time keys from health authorities to alert others of potential exposure to COVID-19.
“The COVID Alert app is a tool that Manitobans can use to help protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities from COVID-19. As more people use it, we can slow the spread of the virus and help prevent future waves. We will continue to work with other provinces and territories to bring their health authorities on board so as many Canadians as possible can benefit from the app,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement.
COVID Alert has been downloaded over three million times, according to Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
“Our government’s number one priority is to keep Manitobans safe. The COVID Alert app is an additional measure to help inform Manitobans and Canadians, and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. I applaud the federal government for their leadership in advancing this important public health tool for the benefit of all Canadians,” added Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
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.
Alberta has committed to switching to COVID Alert, while B.C. has not made any announcements yet on supporting the app, but it most likely will at this point. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized other provinces and territories are expected to support the exposure notification app soon at some point.