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National COVID-19 tracking app now available to Manitobans

Click to play video 'COVID-19 tracing app launched in Manitoba' COVID-19 tracing app launched in Manitoba
The federal government's COVID-19 tracing app is now live in Manitoba. Marney Blunt breaks down how it works and how to use it.

Manitobans can now participate in Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app.

The federal and provincial governments announced Thursday that the COVID Alert app, which lets users know if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, is now available in Manitoba.

People who have tested positive for the coronavirus will be given one-time keys from their local health authorities that they can enter into the app, and the app will then notify others who have come into close contact with that person for longer than 15 minutes.

Read more: Manitoba still working on getting COVID-19 contact tracing app

The government said the app protects all data it collects, and doesn’t track a user’s location or personally identifiable information.

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“Public health won’t have the ability to follow up with those contacts,” Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said during a press conference Thursday. “We’re not informed of it, it’s very confidential.”

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Dr. Roussin also says if you get a notification that you’ve been exposed to the virus, you should get tested, regardless of symptoms.

Health minister Cameron Friesen says the more people that download the app, the better it works.

“We’ve been told by some groups that an app such as the COVID Alert app really only becomes useful demographically when a minimum of 60 per cent of people have downloaded the app,” Friesen said. “I’ve heard numbers as high as 70 and 80 per cent.”

COVID Alert, which has already been downloaded by more than three million Canadians, currently makes one-time keys provided by health authorities available to people in five provinces — a number that is expected to grow in the coming months.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.

“Our government’s number one priority is to keep Manitobans safe,” Premier Brian Pallister said.

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“The COVID Alert app is an additional measure to help inform Manitobans and Canadians, and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

“I applaud the federal government for their leadership in advancing this important public health tool for the benefit of all Canadians.”

— With files from Marney Blunt