#Newfoundland&Labrador; #CovidAlertApp, #ContactTracing
Newfoundland & Labrador, Sep 3 (Canadian-Media): Details of how the free COVID Alert App works were unveiled morning of Sep 3 morning by the the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the second Canadian province to sign up for the the federal government's exposure notification system, media reports said.
Covid Alert App. Image credit: Twitter handle
The app has been in operation in Ontario since the end of July.
When phones with this app are in contact at a distance closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes, that contact is logged via Bluetooth as a "digital handshake," a code of random numbers and letters in which no personal information is collected or stored.
When a person tests positive for COVID-19, another code, called a key, is given to the person by the public health officials to enter into the app, which then triggers an exposure alert to all phones with which it has logged contact over the last 14 days and alerts them that they might have been exposed to COVID-19, and gives them instructions on how to get tested.
All aspects to the program from downloading the app to entering a positive test code into it are voluntary, and code itself expires in 24 hours.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, stressed the app notifies of possible exposure to a case and is notified that a COVID-19 test is recommended.
"It's not going to replace contact tracing and that traditional expertise from public health, but it certainly is another tool that we can use," said Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, adding contact tracing will continue for every positive case and added, "What we have to remember is that we're preparing for the future as well...this app will be useful," she said.
She added it will be useful for people who go to bars or nightclubs where they may be close to others they don't know
The app was previously inaccessible to seniors and people in lower socio-economic brackets as COVID Alert works on Apple and Android phones made in the last five years, using relatively new operating systems.
NL's Premier Andrew Furey said Sep 3 the province is working with community organizations to figure out best ways to eliminate those barriers.
"The more people who download the app, the better," he said.
In late August, Quebec decided against using the app, citing lack of public support due to privacy concerns as one reason.
Officials Thursday stressed the app does not collect or store personal information. The federal privacy commissioner was also consulted on the app's development.
"It's been subject to a lot of scrutiny. And we're confident that this app does not involve the collection of personal information by the government or by a company," Michael Harvey, the province's information and privacy commissioner said Sep 3.
The app is available through Apple and Google's app stores.
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