Nova Scotia adopts COVID ALERT app

Nova Scotia has officially adopted Health Canada’s COVID ALERT app, which notifies residents when they may have been near an individual who tested positive for coronavirus.

“As we learn to live with the virus, COVID Alert is another tool that will help keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy,” said Premier Stephen McNeil in a press release.

The decision to adopt the app has been brewing for a while with McNeil saying at the beginning of October that his government would sign off on its use “soon.”

The app has already been introduced in several provinces in Canada, and its usage is expected to continue to grow.

It can be downloaded through the Apple or Google Play app stores.

Once installed, the app communicates via Bluetooth with nearby phones that also have the app installed.

An app user who tests positive for COVID-19 is then given a unique code by the Nova Scotia Health Authority to put into the COVID ALERT app.

The app then notifies users who have come into close contact with the positive case for longer than 15 minutes. The app will then tell the user to monitor for symptoms, take the online self-assessment if they begin to feel unwell, and provide more information about what to do next.

The best part of the app is that it does not collect personal or health information and does not know or track the location, name, or contacts of any user.

Through the use of Bluetooth, the app attempts to share as little information as possible while still allowing for contact tracing.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, was once opposed to the app but is now encouraging residents to download it.

“Use COVID Alert as one measure to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our province,” said Strang in a press release.

“Nova Scotians are reminded that they should continue to follow all public health measures in place, regardless if they use the COVID Alert app.”

— With a file from Kevin Neilsen

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