Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are the latest provinces signalling their decision to adopt Canada’s COVID Alert exposure notification app, according to Canada’s COVID 19 alert task force.
In an Oct. 2 Health Canada press conference, Marika Nadeau, director general of Canada’s COVID 19 alert task force, said 3.1 million downloads and more than 645 people have voluntarily imputed their one-time key to notify others after testing positive.
“I want to be clear that COVID Alert can help reduce transmission at all levels,” said Nadeau. “For example, if a user receives a notification, they may decide not to visit their parents or grandparents. This means that users can protect their loved ones from potential exposure.”
According to Nadeau, the app is compatible with 92 per cent of phones in use in Canada. The phones that cannot accommodate the app are more than five years old with operating systems that are not compatible.
Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app follows a simple concept. It assigns every user a random numeric identifier. The app would alert the user if they’ve been in close proximity to someone who’s been tested positive for more than 15 minutes.
Nadeau notes that the Government of Canada is taking all measures to protect user data, including establishing the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council. The council consists of 11 members, including two co-chairs and represents Canada’s diversity and regional challenges all over the country.
COVID-Alert has been put through three separate security reviews conducted by the Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity, the Office of the Chief Information Officer of Canada, and by an external Blackberry audit firm.
Over 6,000 people have helped in developing the app’s accessibility features, according to the task force. In addition to its design, the app has also received a new bilingual phonetic alphabet to communicate alphanumeric codes to patients over the phone.
COVID-Alert has been adopted by Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and (soon) Quebec.