The COVID Alert app is seen on an iPhone in Ottawa, on Friday, July 31, 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador has signed on to use a new smartphone app that notifies users when they have been in close contact with a someone infected with COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The COVID Alert app is seen on an iPhone in Ottawa, on Friday, July 31, 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador has signed on to use a new smartphone app that notifies users when they have been in close contact with a someone infected with COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

COVID Alert app has ‘been a challenge,’ not suitable for B.C. yet: Dr. Henry

App is currently operational in eight provinces

While many in B.C. have been waiting for the COVID alert app to come to the province since it first launched this summer, it won’t be arriving just yet.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it’s “been a challenge” for health officials in B.C. because “there are some parameters they built in the federal app that we don’t feel work.”

Henry said that she would like an app that could be used for specific times and places instead of the current COVID alert app style, where users have it on their phone consistently. As it stands now, the app uses bluetooth to check if the user has been in contact – more than 15 minutes, less than two metres apart) with anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days. People who have tested positive for the virus will receive a one-time key to punch into the app, which is how the app knows if that person has COVID-19.

“What we’d really like to see is an app we could download when we’re at a celebration or a party or a church service so that we can identify those specific times when there may be someone with COVID-19 who was in that vicinity,” Henry said during a Monday (Oct. 26) press conference where she reported a record-breaking number of weekend cases.

READ MORE: B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

“Right now it’s very non-specific and it goes back 14 days, which to us doesn’t make a lot of sense because people are not infectious for 14 days before their tests comes back.”

Henry said B.C. isn’t giving up on the app and is still continuing to negotiate with the federal government, but that an agreement has yet to be reached. She recommended that people do download it if they’re travelling.

“But it’s not at the point it would helpful for what we’re managing here in B.C. four our pandemic right now.”

The app is currently available in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. So far, the app has been downloaded 4,805,411 times and

2,387 one-time keys have been used.

READ MORE: Trudeau dodges questions on Trump, breaks down COVID Alert app on ‘22 Minutes’

READ MORE: Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Haleigh Callison during a photo shoot for the Toronto Furies when she played professionally in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. (File photo)
Former Smithereen frustrated with COVID-deniers following horrific bout with the disease

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

India farm protest Dec. 1 2020 (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)
Demonstrators gather in Terrace to support farmers in India

Many farmers are protesting changes to Indian agriculture law

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Terrace RCMP have arrested Kenton David Fast, who was unlawfully at large. (Terrace RCMP Photo)
UPDATE: Terrace RCMP arrest man who was unlawfully at large

Kenton David Fast was arrested on Dec. 1, 2020

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read