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

DriveBC photo.
Westbound Highway 1 lanes in Abbotsford closed as crews investigate serious crash

Crash occurred between McCallum and Clearbrook roads at around 4 a.m., next update at 8 a.m.

Seabird Island Chief Jim Harris thanked the community for embracing the checkpoints and the workers who operate them. Community members have delivered snacks, hot drinks and extra lights to those keeping watch at the entrances of the community. (Screenshot/Seabird Island Band)
Seabird Island chief thanks community for embracing entrance checkpoints

Community members taking care of workers with extra lights, warm drinks, Chief Harris says

(Contributed Photo/Louisa Van Vliet)
Community Camera: November 26, 2020

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com

Volunteers sort food donations during the Agassiz Fire Department’s food drive on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (Agassiz Fire Department/Facebook)
VIDEO: Agassiz Fire Department to host COVID-safe food drive

This year’s drive looks a little different

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The westbound lanes of Highway 1 between Clearbrook and McCallum roads were closed to traffic Wednesday morning after a fatal collision involving a pedestrian.
Pedestrian dies after being struck by vehicle on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Collision takes place early Wednesday morning between Clearbrook and McCallum roads

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

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

FILE – A near empty waterfront train platform is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
TransLink disables some services for second day due to ‘suspicious network activity’

Customers cannot use credit card or debit card at fare gates or Compass card vending machines

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Most Read