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MB Government asks Manitobans to utilize COVID Alert App
News, Posted on October 13, 2020

MB Government asks Manitobans to utilize COVID Alert App

Following the Sept. 30 launch of the Health Canada COVID Alert app to Manitoba residents, the Manitoba government is taking additional steps to increase widespread use of this vital tool in the province’s COVID-19 toolkit, Central Services Minister Reg Helwer announced.

“More than 7,350 cellphones are used by public servants across government and at Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, and Manitoba Hydro,” said Helwer. “This was an obvious and easy additional action we could take to reinforce the value of the app and to encourage more Manitobans to use it.”

Starting today, the COVID Alert app will be promoted to users of government-owned devices automatically including devices at Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, and Manitoba Public Insurance.

A notification will be sent to enable users to download the app, removing the need for each employee to access the app store and download the app. Employees must still make the personal decision to open and initialize the app, in order to access the added protection this tool provides.

The app provides digital COVID-19 exposure alerts once the app is downloaded to a smartphone, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen said on Sept. 30.

“The COVID Alert app is one more tool that Manitobans can use to be aware of a possible exposure to COVID-19,” said Friesen. “The introduction of the app in the province builds on our public health contact tracing efforts to inform people of possible exposures and ensure they are given the advice they need to reduce the spread of the virus.”

The national COVID Alert app uses Bluetooth technology to detect when users are near each other. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to let other users know about potential exposure risk without sharing any personal information. 

Someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be provided a one-time key from public health officials when they call to provide test results. By entering the key into the app, it will notify other app users who have been within two metres of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period within the last 14 days. Subscribers who receive this exposure alert can then assess their risk and seek testing, if needed.

The COVID Alert app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address or contacts of any user. All aspects of the app are completely voluntary.

Friesen noted the COVID Alert app does not replace contact investigations. People who do not have a smartphone or device that will support the app will still receive notification from public health officials if they have positive test results or are determined to be a close contact of a confirmed case. 

“It’s important for people to remember to focus on the fundamentals to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others,” said Friesen. “Stay home if you are sick, reduce your number of contacts, wash or sanitize your hands often, physically distance from others and wear a mask if you cannot, or as required in your community.”

The Health Canada COVID Alert app is available at no cost in the Apple and Google Play app store.  For more information, visit www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/covid-alert.html.    

Go to www.manitoba.ca/COVID19 for information about the #RestartMB Pandemic Response system, testing, public safety alerts and the latest Manitoba case surveillance information.