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Ottawa, Jun 18 (Canadian-Media): Details were provided June 18 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health on enhancement of case and contact management strategy in Ontario to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential future waves, media reports said.
Covid Alert app. Image credit: Twitter handle
Ontario in partnership with the federal government developed a new made-in-Ontario national app called COVID Alert, which through its case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management focuses on strengthening and standardizing case and contact management.
The government's enhanced measures for this includes early identification of all new cases and their close contacts are investigated thoroughly and are followed up with daily for up to 14 days; up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada to supporting public health units with improving technology tools, modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) through the implementation of a new custom-built COVID-19 case and contact management system; and launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Ford in today's news release said, "As we take our contact tracing strategy to the next level today, I want to thank the federal government for providing more boots on the ground and supporting a privacy-first app that will protect both Ontarians and Canadians alike."
"To support these efforts, we are dramatically expanding staffing levels and getting on with the long-overdue work of replacing outdated systems that no longer meet the needs of public health units," said Elliott.
Ontario is providing updated case and contact management guidance for all public health units to ensure consistency across the province. Public Health Ontario will continue overseeing the training and coordination of these additional resources.
Over the summer and into the fall, Ontario will continue to build a supplementary pool of contact tracers to allow public health units to perform their other critical functions, including inspections of food premises and water in recreational facilities, and vaccinations.
To help Ontarians stay safe as the province reopens and social interactions increase, Ontario will be partnering with the federal government to launch COVID Alert, developed by the Ontario Digital Service (ODS) and a group of volunteers from Shopify, within the next two weeks.
To ensure the privacy and security for all users, the government will leverage BlackBerry volunteer expertise to audit the security and privacy of the application, in addition to the province's internal security reviews.
Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
In Ontario, the app will also provide users with quick access to Ontario's public health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested.
Using a national application will help ensure that Ontarians are notified, regardless of which province they are in, helping us towards the goal of ensuring we can all move more freely and safely.
Ontario is also implementing a new user-friendly case and contact management system that will integrate with COVID-19 laboratory results from the Ontario Laboratory Information System (OLIS) data, making current processes significantly more efficient and reducing the administrative burden for public health unit staff.
A single central system will enable the province to identify provincewide regional trends and hotspots, while protecting personal health information. Custom-built on the Salesforce platform, the new system will also allow for a remote workforce, enabling contact tracing to be quickly ramped up when required.
Everyone should continue to follow public health guidelines to stay safe, including physical distancing with people not in your social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and, if you think you have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, getting tested.