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COVID Alert App

The COVID alert app can detect if you have been exposed to COVID-19. If you are arriving in Canada soon, or if you have recently arrived, this free app is a helpful tool. Downloading the app on your mobile phone and using it correctly can help to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Why Canada Uses the COVID Alert App

The Canadian government released the COVID Alert App in July 2020 in an effort to slow down the pandemic in Canada. The app alerts its users if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If the app is used to its full potential, it has the power to slow down the pandemic to a great extent.

However, only 10% of Canadians have downloaded it and only 4% of those users, have used the app correctly. This is due to a common myth that discourages people to download the app.

The Myth about the COVID Alert App

The fact that COVID Alert uses codes to exchange data has led people to believe that the alert does not protect their privacy. Often times, people do not want to tell anyone that they tested positive for COVID-19. This leads them to mistrust the app. In truth, nonetheless, the COVID Alert App does not give out any personal information. 

Unlike the COVID Alert Apps of other countries, Canada’s COVID Alert puts privacy before anything else. Unlike most other apps, the data is stored in the device itself rather than a central server. This ensures privacy, but it doesn’t allow the government to know any statistics regarding how many users received exposure notifications. Like I said, your privacy is put before anything else. 

In this article, you will learn how the COVID Alert App works and how it helps to slow the spread of COVID-19. You will also learn how the COVID Alert App protects your privacy along, and dispel a commonly believed myth about the app.

How the COVID Alert App Works

The COVID Alert App uses Bluetooth to scan for nearby devices with the app downloaded. If two phones are within two meters of each other for more than 15 minutes, they will exchange random codes.

These random codes exchange data between the two phones to notify the other device whether or not the person has COVID-19. However, these codes change every 5 minutes so there is no way that they can be used to track you.

For example, if you were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days, your device will notify you. However, you will never come to know who it was that tested positive for COVID-19. This is because the app does not give out any personal data when it exchanges codes with other devices. 

To learn more about how the COVID Alert App works, click here.

How the COVID Alert App Protects Your Privacy

The COVID Alert App uses Bluetooth to scan for nearby devices. When it does find a phone, it does not exchange any personal data.

If you test positive for COVID-19, everyone who was around you would be notified but they will never know it was you. The app uses random codes to exchange data but the government made sure that the codes can’t be used to track you. This is because the codes change every 5 minutes to protect your privacy. The app itself does not even know your name so no one will know who it was that tested positive for COVID-19. 

The COVID Alert App has no way of knowing your:

– Name
– location or address
– health information.

And, it cannot access any information on your phone such as your contacts.

The COVID Alert App runs in the background of your phone and will not interrupt any of your activities. Everything that the COVID Alert App does is with your permission. When you first install the app, all the permissions will be turned off. If you are using an Android phone, the app might require you to turn on the location settings but it will not share your location with anyone.

Watch now to learn more about how the COVID Alert App protects your privacy:

What to Do if You Test Positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to tell the app that you have COVID-19. The app will not be able to find that out itself. When you open the COVID Alert App, there will be an option to navigate to the menu at the bottom of the screen.

Once you are on the menu:

– Click the option: Get a One-Time Key

– this takes you to a page that will instruct you on how to get your one-time key.

– You will need either your health card or a verification code that is provided by the testing location. 

– Once you get your one-time key, navigate back to the menu page in the COVID Alert App

. There you will see a blue button that says: Enter Your One-time Key.

– Enter your key to let the app know that you have tested positive for COVID-19.

If you come into contact with someone that has the COVID Alert, their device will notify them of an exposure. However, they will not know it was you that tested positive for COVID-19. 

Feeling stressed about COVID-19? Learn about resources and tools to help newcomers deal with stress related to COVID-19.

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What to Do if You Have Been Exposed to COVID-19

If your device notifies you that you been exposed to COVID-19, follow these steps:

1. Go to the nearest assessment center to get a COVID-19 test. Click here to find assessment centers in the province where you live.

2. Stay home until you get your test results

3. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will get a call from a health official advising you to self-isolate and for how long. You should notify the app by getting your one-time key, and self isolate.

4. If you test negative you do not have to isolate, but you should continue to follow public health instructions such as: wearing a face mask, washing your hands often, and keeping a safe distance from others.

How to Download the Free App

Download the app for iOS users here.

Download the app for Android users here.

How Privacy Sacrifices Better Results

In an effort to protect the privacy of Canadians, the government had to sacrifice better results. Since there is no way of collecting statistics about the COVID Alert App, it doesn’t actually know how many people were notified. And since the individual does not know where, when and, with whom any exposure occurred, they cannot tell whether it is a real threat or not. 

This is no reason to believe that the app isn’t working. Let’s take Ontario for example. More than 3,000 Ontarians have notified the app that they tested positive for COVID-19 since it was launched. This is roughly 4% of all COVID-19 cases that happened between August 1 and November 20, 2020. This could have helped by alerting thousands of Ontarians of potential exposure to COVID-19 and preventing them from transmitting the disease. 

Follow Public Heath Orders

No matter how you decide to pursue things with the COVID Alert App, it is important to remember to follow public health orders. The best way to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is to:

– wear a face covering

– wash your hands often

– practice social distancing

. Avoid traveling as much as possible, but if you have to travel, don’t forget to self-isolate for 14 days. 

The COVID Alert App in general is a great tool to have on your device and alert you to exposure. And, as more and more people use the app, it will play a crucial role in fighting back against COVID-19. 

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