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Yukon to ‘Wait and See’ for COVID Alert App Rollout Before Adoption

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Yukon will hold out adopting the federal COVID Alert app, instead waiting to see how it rolls out in other regions.

According to the CBC, Yukon’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brendan Hanley, said he prefers to “wait and see” how the COVID Alert app functions in other regions in the country.

“With our ongoing low COVID[-19] activity, we don’t need to be in a rush to decide,” Hanley said at his weekly update on Wednesday. He did, however, note that Yukoners can still download the app, as it might be useful while travelling.

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.

The app, however, doesn’t distinguish between “high risk and low risk” contacts, which, in turn, could add to demand to COVID-19 testing, tracking, and public health work, says Hanley. This could lead to more low-risk people unnecessarily self-monitoring or self-isolating.

Over six regions across the nation are using the app, and according to Health Canada data, COVID Alert has been downloaded more than 3.4 million times since its launch on July 31.

Update: Clarified how COVID Alert works and that it does not track user locations.

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