The COVID Alert App: What Do You Need to Know?


COVID-19 Alert app postCOVID Alert is Canada’s free exposure notification app, a tool that people can use to be aware of possible COVID-19 exposures. The Government of Canada unveiled the app on July 31, 2020, and it has generated much discussion since the launch.

France Gervais, President of Patients Interested in Arthritis Research (PIRA) – Arthritis Research Canada’s Quebec patient group – and a social worker in rheumatology, attempts to answer some of her patients’ frequently asked questions in order to help people with arthritis understand how the COVID Alert app works.


How does the app work?

COVID Alert does not use your phone’s GPS to track your location. To function, the app uses Bluetooth signals to exchange random codes, every 5 minutes, with nearby phones that have the app installed. If the person has been tested positive, they will receive a one-time key to enter into the app. The app then notifies other app users who may have been exposed. Bluetooth is a wireless communication protocol designed to connect mobile devices to each other. This mode of communication has a very short range.

For more information, you can watch the following video here.


Is my privacy protected?

The app does not collect personally identifiable information about you, therefore it does not have access to your location, name or address, health data, and the place or time when you were near someone who has been diagnosed.

If you would like to learn more about the COVID Alert privacy policy, please click here.


What happens when I receive an exposure notification?

Notifications are based on having spent more than 15 minutes, less than 2 metres from another user in the past 14 days. If the app notifies you about a potential exposure, please monitor your health for the next 14 days and follow the health guidelines from your local public health authority.


Being immunocompromised, and therefore considered more vulnerable, will I be forced to download the application?

Downloading of the application is voluntary.


How many people are using the app?

Currently, there are around 5,181,198 number of downloads and eight provinces and territories onboard, including Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.


Additional resources

Government of Manitoba
Government of New Brunswick
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Government of Nova Scotia
Government of Ontario
Government of Prince Edward Island
Government of Quebec
Government of Saskatchewan
Government of Canada

At any time, if you need more information about COVID-19, please call 811. For mental health support during this time, please visit Crises Services Canada.

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