Canada’s COVID Alert app will soon be available in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
In two press notes released from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday, Justin Trudeau, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced the upcoming availability. The COVID Alert app should already be available for download on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. Soon, Canadians in both provinces will be able to receive the one-time keys from provincial health authorities used with COVID Alert to share potential contacts.
For those unfamiliar with the app, it works using the Exposure Notification System developed by Apple and Google. That system uses Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) on a smartphone to trade randomized, anonymous identifier codes with nearby smartphones. Each phone keeps a local record of these identifiers, which represent possible contact with other people.
While these anonymous codes don’t identify you or reveal any personal data, they can include information that helps estimate how far apart smartphones were when they traded codes and how long they spent within that proximity.
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can use the one-time verification key included with their test result in the COVID Alert app. Doing so shares your phone’s local record of potential contacts. Then, other smartphones check the uploaded list against their local list. If it finds matching identifier codes, then the smartphone warns its user of potential contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and can suggest next steps, like quarantining or getting tested.
The app is safe to use, secure and doesn’t violate people’s privacy.
According to the PMO release, the app will be “fully operational in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in the very near future.” Further, the release notes there have now been over 3.1 million COVID Alert downloads.
With P.E.I. and Nova Scotia joining in, there are now seven provinces supporting the app. That includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. Further, both Quebec and Alberta previously announced plans to use the COVID Alert app, but have yet to roll out support.