Mobile Contact Tracing App Coming to Ontario in Preparation for Second Wave of COVID-19

Announced today, the federal government is launching a voluntary mobile contact tracing app in Ontario for a testing period.

The government made free app will notify users when they’ve been in the same vicinity of someone with the virus, using compiled data of positive COVID-19 cases.

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the app will be available for download in early July and will eventually be available to the other provinces and territories.

The app will also be compatible with 30 million different smartphone models so that a good portion of the population can use the app and be notified if they have come into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus and if that contact took place within 14 days.

When describing the app, Trudeau said that it is bound to face opposition from the public due to the security and privacy settings put in place for the app to function properly.

However, Trudeau has gone on to say that the app’s usage is completely up to the user and that the app will be a “crucial” step for public health as Canadians begin to return to their jobs in this new reality formed by the pandemic.

“I want to stress that this will be completely voluntary,” Trudeau said when discussing the app.

“It will be up to individual Canadians to decide whether to download the app or not. But the app will be most effective when as many people as possible have it”.

Hoping that Canadians view the new mobile contact tracing app as an additional public health safety precaution, Trudeau added that the app will allow health authorities to better understand the nature of the virus when it comes to spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases. 

“It’ll allow us to have a better sense of when there are spikes or resurgences of a virus in a particular area or not because more people will be getting that notification and calling their local public health authorities, so any level of uptake would be useful,” said the Prime Minister.

When addressing the app, Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario government said that they hope the use of the new app will help customers and business owners return to their daily lives with confidence amidst this pandemic.

“From the start of this pandemic, we have used every tool available to us to fight off this deadly threat. We face an invisible enemy. But if we test, we can find it. If we trace, we can track it. And if we have those two things, we can contain it,” Ford said.

“If we don’t have the cooperation of the people of Ontario – we put ourselves more at risk – it’s 100 percent private… We need people to download this app – it’s going to protect us, it’s going to protect our families”.

How the app works

Named “COVID Alert”, the app was originally developed by the Government of Ontario. 

The Prime Minister told reporters that the Canadian Digital Service will continue to work with teams from Shopify and Blackberry on the new software, which will be using Bluetooth technology to register when devices may come into proximity with one another. 

It was also emphasized that the mobile contact tracing app will be owned and operated by the Government of Canada.

As currently planned, health-care professionals will be helping Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19 upload their status anonymously into the network across Canada.

If the user has been in contact with someone who both uses the app and has been tested positive for the virus, the app will notify you and inform you of the steps you have to take if you were exposed and public health advice.

Through the app, users will also have access to the latest information and updates from their specific area.

The app will not use or share any of the individual’s location, personal or medical information. Instead, the app will use randomly generated and anonymous codes and Bluetooth signals between the phones of users that have the app to keep track of the proximity and contact one may have had with someone who tested positive for the virus.

The app will be available for Ontarians to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in the coming weeks.

Canada COVID-19 Stats

With the 173 new cases that were announced today, Canada has officially reached over 100,000 cases across the country in total.

As of this afternoon, Canada has confirmed 100,146 COVID-19 cases, with 64,442 of those cases being resolved. A total of 8,348 deaths related to the virus have also been reported.

Trudeau has gone on to say that the importance of testing and contact tracing is “crucial” as parts of the economy begin to open.

A majority of the cases stem from Ontario and Quebec, but new case numbers for those two provinces, and all provinces and territories in general, are seeing a decline.

As of right now, the only jurisdiction in Canada that hasn’t reported a case related to COVID-19 is Nunavut. When it comes to deaths reported, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Prince Edward Island have no deaths related to the virus.

Ontario COVID-19 stats

Today marks the 5th day Ontario has recorded less than 200 COVID-19 cases, as the province is reporting 173 new cases of COVID-19.

According to the Ministry of Health, 85 percent of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases have been resolved, with many of the province’s public health units reporting fewer cases each day.

Confirmed Cases: 32,917 (+190)

Recoveries: 28,004 (+220)

Deaths: 2,553 (+3)

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