OTTAWA – Responding to criticism that the new federal “COVID Alert” app only works on recently manufactured smartphones, Dr. Theresa Tam said this is one of many tools to fight the coronavirus.
The app, which has been available since last week, aims to alert users if their phone has recently been close to that of someone who subsequently voluntarily revealed that they had tested positive for COVID-19. But we’ve since learned that the new app only works on Apple and Android phones that have been sold for about five years, as it requires a relatively new operating system.
Some therefore deplore that this application is not useful for poorer or older Canadians, who are more likely to use older devices, but who are also the populations most at risk from the coronavirus.
Dr. Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, argued on Tuesday that all the tools at our disposal should be used to fight the pandemic, even if they are not perfect.
The federal government said on Monday that 1.1 million people had downloaded the app so far. At this time, the app is only tied to the Ontario health care system; the Atlantic provinces should be next to participate.
In Quebec, the government launched an online public consultation on July 8 concerning the possible deployment of the application. The Minister Delegate for Governmental Digital Transformation, Eric Caire, warned that such an application is not effective if citizens do not participate in sufficient numbers. “If Quebecers tell us in a significant number ‘no’, at that moment, we know that it is doomed to failure, so why go ahead?”, He said a month ago , at the launch of the consultation which ended last Sunday.
The Canadian Press
Video: COVID-19: it will be necessary to prioritize certain populations in the distribution of a vaccine (Radio-Canada.ca)