Premier hopes Sask. will have access to COVID Alert app within weeks

COVID Alert doesn't currently allow people in Saskatchewan to report when they get a positive test for the virus. Premier Scott Moe says that's in the works, though, and should be available soon. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

Premier Scott Moe says a COVID-19 alert app is coming to Saskatchewan.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Moe said the app is expected to be made available to residents within the next couple of weeks. Currently, he said, the government is in consultation with the Saskatchewan Health Authority on the topic.

“It will, again, be one additional tool that will be available for the people of this province to ensure that we are flattening the curve and continuing to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Moe.

The work to development an alert app began in Ontario, he said. Now, the federal government has adopted it, providing the potential to have it available across Canada.

“Aside from Ontario, that was working on this earlier, all of the provinces are now working with the federal government on whether or not a, they’re going to make it available in their provincial or territorial jurisdiction and b, when exactly and under what parameters that would be,” said Moe.

According to the Government of Ontario’s website, COVID Alert uses your smartphone’s Bluetooth function to detect your distance between others who have downloaded the app. It exchanges random codes with other nearby users every five minutes.

It saves those codes, which cannot be used to identify you or your location, for 14 days.

If you test positive for the virus, you can use the app to notify others.

When you have internet connection, the app looks for matches between the random codes on your phone and from people who have said they’ve tested positive.

If COVID Alert finds matching codes, it means that, within the past two weeks, you were within two metres of another app user for more than 15 minutes and that the user has tested positive. The alert will also give you advice on what to do next.

The app will not know where or when you were exposed because no personal information or local data is shared.

The app is voluntary, so users who test positive aren’t required to notify others of any potential exposure.

The federal government says currently you can use COVID Alert to report a diagnosis if you’re in Newfoundland and Labrador or Ontario. As for other provinces and territories, it says it’s still helpful to have the app to see if you’ve come in contact with someone in a province or territory that can report a positive result.

For more information on how the app works, visit the Government of Canada website.