Premier Doug Ford announced the release of Canada’s new COVID-19 tracing app in Ontario on Friday.
After being delayed from its initial roll out at the beginning of July, the app is now available, on Android devices and iPhones, and has been designed to interact with other similar apps from outside Ontario as they become available.
And according to the government’s website, “Ontario is the first province where people can use COVID Alert to report a COVID-19 diagnosis.”
The apps development began with the Ontario Digital Service and volunteers at Shopify, and was the foundation of the work by the Government of Canada, the province said in a release. The Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario were also consulted on privacy concerns related to the program.
COVID Alert, the free #COVID19 exposure notification app, is now available for people in Canada to start using!
Download it from either:
— Canadian Digital Service (CDS) (@CDS_GC) July 31, 2020
COVID Alert uses Bluetooth, to share anonymous, randomly generated codes with other app users nearby. The app will be testing in Ontario first before rolling out nationally to other provinces and territories.
If you test positive for the virus, you can anonymously notify others who have been near you in the last 14 days. And if you have been in contact with anyone who tested positive, you will also be notified.
According to the province, the app collects no personal data or personal health information and does not collect or track GPS location data.
It also “destroys” all anonymized data on the app after 14 days.
“This important, made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app will be a critical part of our case and contact management strategy as more regions in Ontario enter Stage 3 today,” Ford said in a release. “This innovative tool was developed by some of the best and brightest minds in our province, working in partnership with Ottawa. As businesses open their doors and schools prepare for September, we need to help stop the spread and keep others safe by downloading this COVID Alert app.”
During the announcement, he was quick to warn people that it’s not time to relax, and to continue to heed the advice of medical professionals.
“We’ve seen what happened if we don’t listen to the advice. A month ago our neighbours in the US were heading into the July 4 long weekend. The numbers were down, schools were set to open in four to six weeks, bars, and restaurants were reopening. That long weekend people went to parties beaches and gathering acting like COVID-19 was over.
“You only have to look at what’s happened since then.”