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Federal Minister Quarantines After COVID Alert App Exposure Notification

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4 million

Canada’s COVID Alert exposure notification app surpassed 4 million downloads last week and continues to expand to more provinces.

Now, COVID Alert has sent a federal minister into quarantine after receiving an exposure notification. Federal Trade Minister Mary Ng (no relation to yours truly) on Sunday shared on Instagram she is now self-quarantining as a precaution, after receiving an exposure notification from COVID Alert.

“This morning, I went for a precautionary COVID-19 test after my COVID Alert app notified me that I may have come into contact with someone who had tested positive. Sincere thanks to the health professionals who administered my test, who are working hard on the front lines every day,” said Ng.

“I don’t have any symptoms, but am self-quarantining and working safely from home until I get my results back. This is exactly what the COVID Alert app is designed to do! It’s the best way to keep our communities safe and prevent the spread of the virus – all while protecting your privacy,” added Ng.

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.

A recent bug with COVID Alert was fixed in iOS 14.0.1. A Canadian Digital Services spokesperson told iPhone in Canada in a statement, “there have been some instances of COVID Alert users on Apple operating systems getting exposure notifications from their phone’s operating system and not from the COVID Alert app itself. To clarify, this notification comes from the Apple operating system, not from the COVID alert app.”

“If you get a notification from your operating system that you have been exposed, check the COVID Alert app before taking action. If the COVID Alert app indicates that you have been exposed to COVID-19, follow public health guidance. Apple device users should update to iOS 13.7 as soon as they can, as Apple has now fixed this issue,” added the spokesperson.

Provinces currently supporting COVID Alert or coming soon:

  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Nova Scotia (coming soon)
  • Prince Edward Island

Still waiting for:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon

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