COVID Alert app a help even if it works only on newer phones: Tam

COVID Alert app a help even if it works only on newer phones: Tam

OTTAWA — Answering criticism that the federal “COVID Alert” app only works on newer smartphones, Dr. Theresa Tam says it’s one of many tools in fighting the novel coronavirus.

The app released last week is meant to tell users if their phones have recently been close to a phone registered to someone who volunteers that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19. But it works only on phones released in the last five years or so because it needs a relatively recent operating system.

Critics say that will leave out poorer and older Canadians, who are more likely to use older devices and suffer worse effects from the virus.

Tam said she’s heard that criticism and understands it, but the app isn’t supposed to be a comprehensive solution to the pandemic.

“It may not be the broadest coverage that you need,” Tam said in an Ottawa news conference Tuesday, “but what if, for example, before you walked into a pub, before you walked into a nightclub or places where there may be a bunch of people you may not know, who are not in your specific social circle, where notification is particularly important?”

Younger people with newer phones are an “extremely relevant” target for the app, she said, as are people working in offices who might have more current employer-issued devices.

“Despite these gaps, we need to have a go at using it,” Tam said.

A spokesman for the Treasury Board said Tuesday that as of Monday evening, the app had been downloaded 1.3 million times.

He said it’s not possible to track how many exposure alerts had been sent out.

Tam said we need to use every tool we have to fight the pandemic, even if they aren’t perfect.

“For the hard-to-reach populations, public health will still be doing, as rapid as possible, the contact tracing … that’s required,” Tam said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central zone down to 16 active COVID-19 cases

Alberta Health Services’ central zone is down to 16

‘We’re losing what makes the Parkland so distinctive,” conservation specialist says

The Lacombe district will lose two sites with provincial park status: JJ Collett and the Narrows

Central zone down to 19 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday

Provincially, 158 new COVID-19 cases were identified

Wolf Creek Public Schools receive $2.5 M for COVID costs

Funds will largely go towards PPE and additional cleaning, sanitizing

Central zone has 20 active cases of COVID-19

Province identified 143 new cases across Alberta on Wednesday

Alberta’s top health official says province is not in a second wave of COVID-19

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that Alberta had identified 158 new cases in the province

8 charged, $260K in drugs and cash seized in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Millet Agriplex to become a hub for indoor soccer

Wetaskiwin Soccer Club will be operating out of the Millet Agriplex this season.

Sylvan Lake woman says Town’s response time to concerns isn’t enough

Glenda Jackman says it took almost a month for the Town to act on her complaint about a playground

Ermineskin Kindergarten has a confirmed case of COVID-19

The school has shut down and Cohort 2 is in self-isolation

Hundreds die from opioid overdoses in Alberta as COVID-19 pandemic hit

Jason Luan said the province is not alone in seeing a rise in deaths,

Wetaskiwin/ Camrose RCMP conduct a joint forces initiative with Camrose Police Service

The multifaceted joint forces initiative with on Sept. 23, 2020 proved very successful.

Alberta politicians reject throne speech

Premier Kenney disapointed with lack of support for Alberta energy

Most Read