COVID Alert app updated to serve Canadians better

News release

December 10, 2020  - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

Millions of Canadians are doing their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by downloading and using the COVID Alert app. Thousands of people have uploaded their one-time key following a positive diagnosis to help protect others by notifying them that they may have been exposed. As more Canadians use the app, we continue to collect feedback on how it can be improved to meet user needs. Use of the app is one of the ways you can help protect each other and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Digital Government, announced that COVID Alert has been updated with two new features. The first app update allows users to clear the screen that indicates exposure to COVID-19. After receiving a negative COVID-19 test result, the screen can be cleared enabling the app to alert the user of a new exposure. Users should follow public health guidance, and only clear the screen that indicates exposure following a negative test result or after they receive instructions provided by their public health authority.

The second feature allows users to turn COVID Alert on and off without disabling Bluetooth. This change was made after listening to feedback from health care workers, who need flexibility to turn off COVID Alert while they are at work wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE). When these users turn off COVID Alert, their phone will not exchange random codes to or from other app users’ phones, nor will it send notifications of exposure.

To ensure that Canadians have the latest features and that the app is working at its best, we recommend regularly updating your operating system and checking the COVID Alert app to ensure you are aware of any exposure notifications.

The Government of Canada continually reviews and improves COVID Alert. Updates are based on public health guidance, provincial and territorial needs, user research, and changes to the underlying framework by Apple and Google.


“We continue to improve the COVID Alert app and encourage everyone in Canada to join the 5.6 million people who have already downloaded it. These new features are designed with the user in mind, to help Canadians better track their exposures.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

“In keeping with the principles of digital government, the COVID Alert app is continuously being reviewed and updated in the open, based on public health guidance, usability research and provincial and territorial needs. The new updates to this secure, reliable and easy to use digital tool ensure it remains an important part of our broader efforts to slow the spread of this virus and protect the health and safety of Canadians.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray
Minister of Digital Government

Quick facts

  • As of December 7, there have been more than 5.6 million downloads of the app.

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

  • Since the app first launched, more than 8000 people have voluntarily input their one-time key to notify others around them after testing positive for COVID-19.

  • When users download the app, their phones send 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.

  • The COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council was established to ensure the app meets the highest standards in public health outcomes, privacy and technology. Council members 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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-19 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

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