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More calls for Alberta to adopt federal tracing app as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Canada's COVID Alert App

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Alberta continues to set new COVID-19 records with hospitalizations now over 200 and active infections surpassing eight thousand.

On Tuesday, the province reported 713 new cases and seven deaths.

As cases increase so do calls for the province to adopt the federal COVID Alert app.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) recently changed its approach of notifying close contacts of people infected with the virus, focusing on health-care workers, minors and people who live or work in communal situations.

The change was made after contact tracers started to become overwhelmed from the increase in cases.

Tom Sampson, Chief of Calgary Emergency Management Agency, says the province needs access to the federal app to help notify individuals.

“There are so many cases that are occurring right now, and we can’t expect those busy and hard-working contact tracers to be able to phone everybody,” he said.

“I’m an advocate for an app that tells us when we have been exposed to something.”

Sampson added the national app would help those who need to travel for either work or to visit families in other provinces.

“I want an app that works, not only if I’m here, but if I have to go see my family who are sick in B.C., I can go to B.C. and have an app that follows me there,” he said.

“If you’re doing business, and Calgary certainly is a business location, that app follows you, the provincial app does not.”

Sampson believes having access to the federal app is another tool to help during the pandemic, but it’s not a complete solution to bring numbers down.

“If we can all take individual action, we can push back COVID,” he said.

“If we don’t do that, what I fear is that we’re going to have one of these lockdowns that everyone is talking about.”

Over five million people have downloaded the COVID Alert as of Nov. 8.

There is no word on when the province plans to move away from its tracing app for the national one.

Last Week, Premier Jason Kenney said the ABTraceTogether app is directly integrated into Alberta’s contact tracing system, unlike the federal app.

“Alberta will not currently adopt the federal COVID Alert app because a condition of doing so would be turning off the ABTraceTogether app which is a key part of our contact tracing system,” Kenney said.

“ABTraceTogether is, from our view, simply a better and more effective public health tool.”