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Alberta’s new app traces COVID-19 contact

Dr. Deena Hinshaw is Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

Want to know if you’ve been near someone with COVID-19?

There’s an app for that.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Friday introduced the new ABTraceTogether app.

The voluntary, mobile contact tracing app is intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The more Albertans who use it, the better we will be able to protect individuals from being unknowingly exposed and possibly spreading the disease,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

The ABTraceTogether app enhances the manual contact tracing process, which is currently performed by interviewing patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Hinshaw said during a news conference that process is resource intensive and has limitations as it relies on a patient’s memory.

Through wireless Bluetooth technology, mobile contact tracing will complement the work of health care workers and speed the tracing process.

Albertans will be contacted more quickly if they are at risk.

“The use of technology for this purpose may seem intrusive but downloading the app is completely voluntary,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

A person’s phone number is collected at the time of registering the app.

Hinshaw said he application does not track the user’s location and does not use a GPS.

Data is stored on the user’s phone in an encrypted format for 21 days.

Users must consent to sharing their data if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

The only information shared with contact tracers is a random ID of those identified as close contacts after a user is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Users must be within two metres from each other for a total duration of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period in order to be notified as a close contact.

The app is now available to download for free from the App Store and Google Play.

On Friday, there were 5,573 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, with 92 deaths.