THUNDER BAY – A new app designed to alert users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested for COVID-19 is now available and the provincial government says the more people who use the app the more effective it will be.
“Please everyone download the app and help do your part,” said Premier Doug Ford during his daily media briefing on Friday.
Ontario Digital Services, in collaboration with Shopify, developed the COVID Alert app, which is available for download now.
The app works by assigning a random code to a users device and pings other users devices within a 10-metre radius through Bluetooth.
Users will receive an alert if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Users who have tested positive can choose make that known on the app.
“This is an app that puts your privacy first,” Ford said. “It was developed in consultation with the privacy commissioners of Ontario and Canada to ensure the highest level of privacy.”
No personal information from the user is collected by the app and does not track the name or location of the user.
The COVID Alert app comes as much of the province is now in Stage 3 of reopening and is meant to assist with contact tracing and providing people an opportunity to self-isolate to get tested if they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive.
“The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be,” Ford said.
Ford also reminded the people of Ontario to continue to follow all public health guidelines as the long weekend approaches.
“We’ve seen what happens if we don’t listen to the advice,” Ford said. “A month ago our neighbours in the U.S. were entering the July 4 long weekend. That long weekend people went to parties and beaches and gatherings, acting like COVID-19 was over. You just have to look at what happened since then to know how devastating it’s been.”
“We don’t have to go down that road,” Ford added. “The future is in our hands. It’s up to us to write the next chapter. We have to practice physical distancing, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings and parties.”
The COVID Alert app is available on the Apple Store and Google Play for free. The federal government is working with other provinces to make it available to residents across the country.