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Health Canada's COVID Alert app now available for download

Last Updated Aug 1, 2020 at 4:49 pm MDT

Canada's COVID Alert App

COVID-19 contact tracing app finally launches in Ontario after test-run delayed by weeks

COVID Alert app can be downloaded across Canada; other provinces will soon integrate their systems, Trudeau says

App will notify users if they've been in contact with another app user who's tested positive for COVID-19

Health Canada has finally made its COVID-19 contact tracing app available.

As of Friday, Canadians were able to download it on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

The app is currently only live in Ontario, launching weeks after a test-run across the province was delayed.

“We know other provinces will be joining in soon,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, encouraging people across the country to download the app right away.

Once users download the app, all they have to do is select their province to begin.

While a user in any province can download the app, Canadians outside of Ontario will see the message “We’ll let you know as soon as people in your area can report a diagnosis through COVID Alert,” until their province links it to their system.

The app was supposed to go live for the pilot in Ontario on July 2, however, there’s been little information provided about the reason for the nearly month-long delay.

Use of the app is voluntary, however, officials — including Trudeau — have said the more people who use it, the better it will work.

“Health experts say if enough people sign up, this app can help prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada,” Trudeau stressed.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 can anonymously upload their status to a national network that would notify other app users who have been in close contact with that person.

“If that’s the case, it will then encourage you to call your provincial health services for guidance on what to do,” Trudeau said.

The application uses Bluetooth on your phone, which needs to be turned on for it to work.

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It won’t notify you if you just pass an infected person on the street. You need to be closer than two metres to someone positive with the coronavirus for at least 15 minutes before your phone records that as a connection.

“It doesn’t collect your name, your address, your geolocation, or any other personal information,” Trudeau said, adding he downloaded the app Friday morning.

The system was created in Ontario. The Atlantic provinces’ health systems are next to be integrated, with the prime minister saying discussions to roll out the app in other provinces are ongoing.

“We expect they’ll be coming on board soon as well.”