Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced Friday in a news release that people in P.E.I. will soon be able use the COVID Alert app.
The app is Canada's COVID-19 exposure notification app. The free app is designed to notify users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week in a national address, Trudeau urged all Canadians to begin using the app as soon as it becomes available where they live, although downloading it and using it remain voluntary.
No date was given for when the application will be fully operational in Prince Edward Island, but Friday's release said it would be "in the very near future."
How it works
Here's how it will work, according to the release: Islanders holding health cards will soon receive one-time "keys" or codes from their health authorities to use with the app.
When two mobile phones that have downloaded the app are in contact for more than 15 minutes at a distance closer than two metres, that contact is logged via Bluetooth as a "digital handshake," a code of random numbers and letters in which no personal information is collected or stored.
When a person tests positive for COVID-19, public health officials give that person another code, called a key, to enter into the app. That triggers an exposure alert to all phones that it logged contact with over the previous 14 days.
The notification tells users they may have been exposed to COVID-19, and directs them about next steps to take based on their provincial public health advice.
There have been questions about the app's privacy implications, but the government says the app does not track a user's location or collect personally identifiable information, and "uses strong measures to protect any data it collects."
The app is now available in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The release noted Nova Scotia is also joining the app network "in the very near future."
The federal government is working with all provinces and territories to bring their health authorities on board in the coming weeks and months, the release said.
About 3.1 million Canadians have already downloaded the app, Friday's news release said.
The P.E.I. Department of Health advised Islanders to watch next Tuesday's scheduled update from Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison for more details.
What people are saying
CBC News asked a handful of folks on the street in Charlottetown what they think of the app.
"I think it's a good idea because it's going to help more about tracing and people are, will be like, maybe safer," said Chloe Arlapen. David Rosas said that even though there are few cases on P.E.I., "it's good to know, and good to have that kind of assurance in case something happens, right. It's good control for us." "We travel a lot and we hoping to travel again, so I thought it would be — it's a good thing to have, I think," said Jane Grinstead.
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