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

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 last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have been doing a lot of lately. Winter is here folks get your shovels out! (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Canadian’s favourite pastime

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have… Continue reading

grad
Raising money

Recently 2021 grad and parents sorted through all the bottles they have… Continue reading

RCMP
Big shout out to Houston RCMP

A Houston resident submitted this photo of Houston RCMP lending a hand… Continue reading

Welcome to Houston
Premier urged to remember northern, rural communities

Houston signs group letter being sent to John Horgan

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

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

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Most Read