“Now is the time” says Minister Friesen of COVID Alert app

There is an app available in Canada that may prove to be a tool in the fight against COVID, and it is coming to Manitoba. The app has been available to download for a few weeks, but participation is through the individual provinces.

Until this week, only New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Saskatchewan were able to use it. At Monday’s daily news conference health minister, Cameron Friesen responded to a question from the press about timing of the activation of the app. He took the opportunity to announce that the COVID Alert app would be activated in Manitoba late this week.

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Once installed on a phone the app uses Bluetooth technology to link with other phones. The app does not have permission to see personal identification, contacts, health information or any location data. The only information shared is a random code that changes frequently. The app uses the strength of the Bluetooth signal to determine how close other phones are, and if two devices running COVID Alert are close enough for long enough, it records this as an opportunity for exposure.

COVID-19 positive

If an app user receives a positive diagnosis for COVID he can allow the random codes his app has generated to be tagged so that other app users who have been in contact can be notified through the app. They will get no other information about where, when or with whom the contact took place, because that information has never been collected.

The federal and provincial governments agree that COVID Alert can help break the cycle of infection by letting people know of possible exposures before any symptoms appear.

The app is not meant to replace current contact tracing measures but it could assist in early detection and treatment. The effectiveness of this tool depends upon widespread use so Minister
Friesen recommends that we download it. He says, “Now is the time.”

Learn more at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/covid-alert.html#a2

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