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Coronavirus contact tracing app to launch nationally in coming weeks: Trudeau

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Coronavirus contact tracing app to launch nationally in coming weeks: Trudeau

The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be for contact tracing and containing the virus.

Trudeau assures Canadians that the app is completely confidential and respectful of privacy rights.

All data will be kept anonymous, with no no location or personal information collected.

Prime Minister Trudeau announced today that they will be introducing a nation-wide mobile app for COVID-19 contract tracing. The app will also provide users with quick access to public-health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested.

The province is also spending $20 million over the next four years to replace its dreaded Integrated Public Health Information Management System (iPHIS) with a new system that will combine all COVID-19 data together - including from public health units such as Toronto or Middlesex-London that got so fed up with iPHIS they built their own systems.

"We drew lessons from what other people did around the world", Trudeau said. Users voluntarily upload Covid-19 test results to the app, which then sends anonymized updates to anyone with the app who came into contact with positive test cases within the last two weeks.

The app is being developed by Shopify, Blackberry, and the Province of Ontario.

The app will be free to download and its use is voluntary.

Such a figure seemed incomprehensible six months ago when public health officials greeted word of the country's first COVID-19 case with repeated assurances that the risk of contracting the virus was low. And if you have been in contact with anyone who tested positive, you will also be notified. Already 97 per cent of cases are contacted within 24 hours. "I know how important that is for people". Since the onset of COVID-19 we have been dealing with systems that are out of date. And we've worked very, very carefully to ensure that it is that way.

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, an expert in technology law, said using Bluetooth technology instead of Global Positioning System will be more accurate in terms of identifying people who were actually in close proximity to someone with COVID-19. A CBC News count based on data from regional public health units put the real toll at 2,605.

Ford is expected to speak in more detail about this new "enhanced case and contact management" strategy at 1 p.m. on Thursday alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.

Concerns about privacy have been paramount in discussions of contact tracing apps, and Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner wasted no time raising it as an issue Thursday. CTVNewsToronto.ca will be streaming the news conference live.

It's the fifth straight day that the number of new cases has been below 200. They will remain in Stage 1 until at least next week, when the province will reassess the data.

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