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Health Canada Urges B.C. Residents to Download COVID Alert App as Province Drags Feet

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Health Canada is urging residents in British Columbia to download Canada’s COVID Alert app, as the province drags its feet to support the exposure notification app.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Health Canada told Postmedia News the COVID Alert app is still useful to have, despite the latter has not been officially supported yet in B.C.

“The COVID Alert app is free and voluntary, and is another tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks,” said Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette, to Postmedia News.

“At all levels of uptake, COVID Alert can help reduce transmission. The more people who use the app the more effective it will be,” added Durette.

B.C. and the federal government are still in talks about the roll out of COVID Alert, added Health Canada. Alberta, the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have also not officially adopted COVID Alert yet.

Durette said, “It’s still helpful to download COVID Alert from anywhere in the country, even if you can’t use it to report a diagnosis. That way, you’ll be notified if you come into contact with someone from a reporting province or territory or when people in your area are able to report a diagnosis.”

The B.C. Ministry of Health told Postmedia last week it was working with the federal government to get COVID Alert app active in the province. Clearly, B.C. is not working fast enough when other provinces have been able to support COVID Alert in a shorter timeframe.

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:

  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island

Still waiting for:

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

The federal government of Canada recently acknowledged there was a bug within iOS that affected the COVID Alert app, and urged Canadians to update to iOS 14.0.1 to resolve the issue.

Since October 15, COVID Alert has been download downloaded over 4.5 million times, with 1,696 one-time keys issued.

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