COVID Alert app updated to send more precise notifications

News release

October 30, 2020 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

Over the past months, Canadians have been following public health advice and doing their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As we continue to deal with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, we need to work together to contain the virus.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Digital Government, announced that the COVID Alert app has been updated to send notifications based on a more precise timeline. With this update, users who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have entered a one-time key from their respective public health authority will now have the option to enter the date of their symptom onset or their testing date. This will provide a better estimation of the period when they may have been most infectious to others.

Importantly,  the COVID Alert app can now notify users of potential exposure to cases during the time period when the people who tested positive were most infectious. This will align more closely with current public health guidance, as individuals are likely to be most infectious from two days prior to symptom onset for symptomatic individuals.

COVID Alert continues to protect your privacy. These new features are optional. Any information users provide about their symptom onset and testing date will stay on their phone and will not be shared. Canadians can still input their one-time key without sharing any additional information about symptom onset or testing date if they prefer. In that case, notifications will continue to be sent to other users who are close contacts from 14 days prior to the one-time key being entered.


“As we continue to work together to limit the spread of the virus, COVID Alert is an additional tool you can use to protect yourself and your loves ones. We continue to improve the app to encourage you to join the more than 4.9 million who have already downloaded it.”

The Hon. Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

“Our digital response has been critical to overcoming the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The updates to this secure, easy to use digital tool will continue to help slow the spread of this virus and protect the health and safety of Canadians. The more of us who use the app, the more effective it will be, so I encourage all Canadians to do their part and download COVID Alert today.”

The Hon. Joyce Murray
Minister of Digital Government

Quick facts

  • As of October 28, there have been 4.9 million downloads of the app.

  • Since the app first launched, more than 2,800 people have voluntarily input their one-time key to notify others around them after testing positive for COVID-19.

  • COVID Alert is available for Canadians as a free download from the App Store or the Google Play Store.

  • When a user downloads the app, their phone sends out randomly generated codes via Bluetooth to other smartphone users who have the app and are within approximately two metres. If they test positive for the virus, users can choose to upload their random codes to a central server located in Canada. Once uploaded, the random codes are stored on the server for 15 days, after which they are automatically deleted.

  • Canadians who want to know more about COVID Alert can call 1-833-784-4397.

  • The Government of Canada established the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council to ensure the app meets the highest standards in public health outcomes, privacy and technology. The members of the Council reflect Canada’s regional and cultural diversity, and cover a wide range of expertise, including health, privacy, data governance, science and innovation. Their advice informs the implementation and rollout of the app.

  • BlackBerry and the Communications Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security completed a security assessment of the app before it was launched. All data provided to the app is securely stored and protected.

  • The COVID Alert app is continually re-assessed and updated as it rolls out across the country based on provincial needs, user research and testing. Users who already have the app downloaded should keep both the app and their device’s operating system up to date.

  • COVID Alert is a collaboration between Health Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Canadian Digital Service, and the Ontario Digital Service. It builds upon an exposure notification solution developed by Shopify volunteers in coordination with the non-profit Linux Foundation Public Health. It is also the work of a team of developers from across the country.

  • As part of our commitment to open and transparent government, the Canadian Digital Service is making its work on the app’s development and testing available on Github.

  • The Canada COVID App is another digital tool that supports Canadians. It allows users to track their symptoms while receiving the latest updates and accessing trusted resources.

Associated links


Cole Davidson
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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