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Still no timeline for when Alberta will have access to federal COVID-19 tracking app

The COVID Alert app is seen on an iPhone in Ottawa, on Friday, July 31, 2020.
The COVID Alert app is seen on an iPhone in Ottawa, on Friday, July 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed residents in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick can now download and use the federal COVID-19 app, but there’s still no word on when COVID Alert will be available in Alberta.

Read more: COVID Alert app now available in Saskatchewan

While speaking to media Friday about the first likely in-school transmission of COVID-19 in Alberta, the province’s chief medical officer of health said they’re still working on it.

“It was announced several weeks ago that Alberta has determined that we will eventually be using the federal app, however, there are still several details that still need to be worked out,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“At this moment, we don’t have a determined time frame as to when that will go live in this province.”

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Click to play video 'Federal Health Minister says two western provinces joining federal COVID-19 tracking app' Federal Health Minister says two western provinces joining federal COVID-19 tracking app
Federal Health Minister says two western provinces joining federal COVID-19 tracking app

“We are progressing quite nicely,” the federal health minister said Friday when asked how negotiations with provinces were going.

“The negotiations are, I think, accelerating,” Patty Hajdu said. “We know that our cases are rising in Canada and the COVID Alert is an additional tool for communities to be able to provide citizens the ability to get fast and rapid alerts if they’ve come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.”

Read more: Alberta records 1st ‘likely’ case of in-school transmission of COVID-19

Alberta attempted to launch its own COVID-19 tracing app, but Apple users ran into issues when the app would only work if the phone was unlocked and the app was running in the foreground.

In mid-July, Premier Jason Kenney said the federal government had directed Apple and Google to not work with the province on a fix to the ABTraceTogether app in an effort to get everyone to use one, nation-wide app.

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Read more: Kenney says federal government told Apple, Google not to work with Alberta on contact tracing apps

The federal tracing app was launched at the end of July, but only worked for Ontario at first. As of Friday, the only provinces where the federal app worked were Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor suggests younger people give COVID Alert app a try' Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor suggests younger people give COVID Alert app a try
Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor suggests younger people give COVID Alert app a try

The app aims to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus by alerting the user when they have come in close contact with another user who tested positive for the virus. It can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices.

– With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News