Over the past months, Canadians have been following public health advice and doing their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now, as we take steps to ease restrictions and safely restart our economy, we need to continue to work together to contain the virus, help prevent a potential second wave, and keep Canadians safe and healthy.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Andrew Furey, today announced that people in Newfoundland and Labrador can now receive one-time keys from their health authorities to use with COVID Alert, Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app. The app, first fully implemented in Ontario in July, helps notify users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The COVID Alert app is free and voluntary, and is another tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Users who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a one-time key from their health authority that they can enter into the app. When the key is entered, COVID Alert will notify other users who may have come in close contact with that person for at least 15 minutes, and direct them on next steps based on their provincial public health advice.
To safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of all Canadians, the app uses strong measures to protect any data it collects, and does not track a user's location or collect personally identifiable information. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada was consulted on the development of COVID Alert, and supports its use by Canadians.
COVID Alert is available for download to all Canadians, and the Government of Canada continues to work with the other provinces and territories to bring their health authorities on board in the coming weeks and months.
“The COVID Alert app is a tool that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can use to help protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities from COVID-19. As more people use it, we can slow the spread of the virus and help prevent future outbreaks. We will continue to work with other provinces and territories so as many Canadians as possible can benefit from the app.”
“Launching COVID Alert today for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians means there is an important new tool in the toolbox when it comes to living with COVID-19. A lot of thought and work has gone into its development, and I’d like to thank everyone for their dedication.”
“Already downloaded by more than 2.2 million Canadians, this app is an additional tool we can use as we prepare for a possible increase in cases this fall. I encourage all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to download it and input the one-time key from their health authorities to notify others should they get COVID-19.”
“COVID Alert can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, and keep our loved ones healthy and safe. We all need to keep doing our part. COVID Alert is a secure, reliable, and user-friendly app. I encourage everyone to download it today.”
“Congratulations to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who can now access the full functionality of COVID Alert. The more of us who use the exposure notification app, the more effective it will be, so I encourage all Canadians to do their part and download COVID Alert. This secure digital tool is an important part of our public health efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
“Online service options have allowed us to continue to serve residents during the public health emergency, and the COVID alert app is the next step in our digital government response.”
- Since launching, there have been 2.2 million downloads of the app.
- COVID Alert is available for Canadians as a free download from the App Store or the Google Play Store. When a user downloads the app, their phone sends out randomly generated codes via Bluetooth to other smartphone users who have the app and are within approximately two metres. If they test positive for the virus, users can choose to upload their random codes to a central server located in Canada. Once uploaded, the random codes are stored on the server for 15 days, after which they are automatically deleted.
- Since the app first launched in Ontario, 112 people have voluntarily input their one-time key to notify others around them after testing positive for COVID-19.
- Canadians who want to know more about COVID Alert can call 1-833-784-4397.
- The Government of Canada established the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council to ensure the app meets the highest standards in public health outcomes, privacy, and technology. The members of the Council reflect Canada’s regional and cultural diversity, and cover a wide range of expertise, including health, privacy, data governance, science, and innovation. Their advice informs the implementation and rollout of the app.
- BlackBerry and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security completed a security assessment of the app before it was launched. All data provided to the app is securely stored and protected.
- COVID Alert is a collaboration between Health Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Canadian Digital Service, and the Ontario Digital Service. It builds upon an exposure notification solution developed by Shopify volunteers in coordination with the non-profit Linux Foundation Public Health. It is also the work of a team of developers from across the country.
- As part of our commitment to open and transparent government, the Canadian Digital Service is making its work on the app’s development and testing available on Github.
- COVID Alert complements the existing Canada COVID App, a tool that supports Canadians in tracking their symptoms while allowing them to receive the latest updates and access trusted resources.