ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador's health minister was mistaken when he told reporters this week that Ottawa "gave up" on the COVID Alert app, the provincial government says.
Health Minister John Haggie "had not been provided the most recent information" on the use of the COVID Alert app when he made those comments, the provincial Health department tweeted Thursday.
"While the provincial government continues to promote vaccinations as our best defence against the virus, the use of the COVID Alert app … remains one of the tools in the toolbox," the statement said. The COVID Alert app is active in the province, though officials do not always use it, the statement added.
During a media briefing on Wednesday, Haggie said the federal government had stopped supporting the smartphone application because of low uptake. He made the comments in response to questions about the province's contact tracing capacities, as officials announced that those who test positive for COVID-19 would be required to reach out themselves to their close contacts.
Officials are battling record-shattering caseloads as the Omicron variant rips through the province. Public health reported 431 new cases Friday as well as the province's 19th death from the disease. The new cases reported Friday surpass the previous record of 349 cases set a day prior.
There were 1,746 active reported cases in the province, and one person was in hospital because of COVID-19, a news release said. The release did not mention the COVID Alert app, though most caseload advisories sent this month encouraged residents to download it.
The COVID Alert app launched in July 2020, and it allows anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to input a one-time key code that will trigger contact notifications to phones that have been nearby. The federal government's website for the app shows it has been downloaded more than 6.7 million times and that users have inputted more than 37,300 keys.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2021.
The Canadian Press