TORONTO, Ont. – Several industry associations are encouraging the widespread use of apps that support contact tracing efforts in the midst of Covid-19.
Health Canada’s Covid Alert app uses a Bluetooth signal to detect if users have crossed paths with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. And those crossing the border can use the ArriveCAN app to share personal contact information with the Public Health Agency of Canada before arriving at a port of entry.
Each app would benefit from broader use.
While Canadian Digital Services reported 1.1 million downloads of the Covid Alert app as of Aug. 3, such apps are expected to be most effective if more than 55% of the population uses them on a daily basis. Canada has a population of 37.59 million people.
This particular app is also limited to working on smartphones made in the last five years, and equipped with recent operating systems.
The Ontario Trucking Association, meanwhile, reported delays and queues at some ports of entry when Canada Border Services Agency officers began to collect personal contact details on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada, as required under the Quarantine Act. Once a traveler’s phone number and email address are entered into the system, the data is linked to travel documents and doesn’t have to be offered again.
The ArriveCAN app allows such information to be entered in advance, within 48 hours before arriving in Canada.
Drivers have reported problems with the app’s verification field, the association reported earlier this month. It’s encouraging truck drivers to ensure they have 2.0.25 of the app, which includes an update to address the issue.
“Commercial drivers are reminded to make sure they are updating the app religiously for bug fixes,” the OTA adds in a related bulletin.
The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) is supporting a broad array of contact tracing tools including truck-specific GPS and ELD data.
“By downloading the (ArriveCAN app), drivers can save themselves time at the border, and help protect themselves and others by ensuring — if they come in close proximity with someone who contacts Covid-19 — that they can easily be notified so they can have themselves tested,” said Mike Millian, president of the association representing private fleets.
The Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario, and the Construction Employers Coalition, are also encouraging workers and residents to use the Covid Alert app.
“Health and safety is about eliminating hazards,” said David Frame chairman of the CEC and director of government relations at the Ontario General Contractors Association. “Where a hazard cannot be eliminated, a mitigation plan must be put into place. Tracing apps expand our ability to manage Covid-19, but will only work if and when a significant portion of the population participate at home, work and play.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has described the Covid Alert app as a “critical part of our case and contact management strategy” as the province begins to reopen.
If a Covid Alert app user tests positive for Covid-19, they can enter a one-time key from the province’s test results website. A message will then be sent to other app users who have been within two meters of them for at least 15 minutes within the last 14 days, but it doesn’t include information that identifies the user or the time and place of the exposure.
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