Canadian military asked to use government’s COVID Alert app

OTTAWA — Canadian Armed Forces members and their civilian colleagues in the Department of National Defence are being strongly encouraged to download the federal government’s smartphone application for tracking potential exposure to COVID-19.

Chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas say they understand some may have concerns when it comes to privacy and secrecy.

Read more: COVID Alert app wraps first month with 2.2M downloads, 90 infection reports

But they say the app has been cleared by Defence Department experts and that while installing it is voluntary, using it is one way military personnel and defence officials can help prevent a second wave of COVID-19.

The call to arms comes as Newfoundland and Labrador joins Ontario as the only provinces using the app, though Saskatchewan has said it is considering whether to join.

Quebec has indicated it does not plan to adopt the app for now.

2:10 Complaints about accessibility of new COVID Alert app

Complaints about accessibility of new COVID Alert app

The government says the app has been downloaded 2.2 million times since it was rolled out in Ontario in late July and that 112 people have voluntarily used it to identify themselves as having COVID-19.

The app uses Bluetooth to exchange randomly generated numbers with nearby smartphones and alerts users if they have been close to someone who later enters a code saying he or she has tested positive for the virus that causes the illness.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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