Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness has announced via Twitter (@nshealth) that the federal government’s COVID Alert app is now available in the province.
In a series of tweets, the Health and Wellness account outlined the basics of how COVID Alert works, how it protects users’ privacy and linked to the Nova Scotia website so people could learn more about the app.
COVID Alert is available for free on the Play Store for Android and App Store for iOS. It operates on Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification system, which uses Bluetooth to detect nearby smartphones also running the app. In short, COVID Alert will trade anonymous, unique codes with nearby devices that represent potential exposures. Details like signal strength and length of time can be used to estimate the risk of exposure. The codes do not contain any personal data or any identifying information that could reveal who you are.
Nova Scotians will be able to receive #COVID19 exposure alerts directly to their smartphones when using Health Canada’s free COVID Alert App, available on the Apple or Google Play app stores. You can also download it at https://t.co/nY74BH394a. pic.twitter.com/WwOYl3JMOR
— Health & Wellness (@nshealth) October 15, 2020
Each smartphone keeps a local list of these anonymous codes as a record of potential exposures. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a one-time verification key from public health authorities in their province. They can then enter that code into COVID Alert, which allows them to upload their phone’s local record of potential exposures. Other smartphones can then check that list for matching codes. A match indicates possible exposure to COVID-19 and will cause the app to alert users.
Nova Scotia joins other provinces, including Manitoba, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Quebec in supporting the COVID Alert app. Further, the app has passed 4.3 million downloads. Just five days ago, COVID Alert was at 4 million downloads.