Health & Wellness

Nationwide Contact Tracing App to Come in July

The government is releasing a mobile phone app that tells you if you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19

By Erika Morris

The federal government has announced the imminent launch of a nationwide COVID-19 contact tracing app. Created with the help of Shopify, Blackberry, Apple, Google, and the Government of Ontario, the mobile phone app is designed to notify you if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and will be available in Ontario first, as of July 2.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed that use of the app, called COVID Alert, is completely voluntary and that it doesn’t collect or share your information, but its success depends on how many people choose to download it. The app will use Bluetooth wireless technology, so no GPS location services need to be used and the app can run ini the background without draing a phone’s battery.

People who test positive for COVID-19 will get a temporary code from a healthcare provider to upload their results anonymously. This way people can’t self-diagnose or enter a false diagnosis. If a user spends time near some who later tests positive, the app’s Bluetooth technology will take note and alert the user.

Right now, public health officials interview those who test positive for COVID-19 and reach out to every person the patient can remember having had contact with in the last two weeks. With the app, users enter the names as soon as they get their diagnosis and those people are notified. Plus, if someone can’t remember everywhere they’ve been in the last 14 days, the app is tracing them.

As of June 22, the coronavirus has infected 101,000 Canadians and killed more than 8,400.

Photo: iStock/Firn.