Help for COVID Alert
On this page
- For medical advice
- Operating systems
- Location and Android phones
- Trouble with your one-time key
- To check if it's working
- Not downloading or opening
- The app is crashing
- To stop using the app
- Battery life and data usage
- Living situations
- Travelling with the app
- Contact us
For medical advice
Or information about COVID-19 symptoms and treatment:
- Contact your local public health authority
- Contact your doctor or other healthcare provider
COVID Alert uses the Apple-Google Exposure Notifications framework to allow Bluetooth to estimate distance from other phones. The framework is only available on the following operating systems:
- iOS 13.5 or later versions
- Android 6 and up, with updated Google Play Services
You can check to see if your phone will support the app.
Go to Settings, then choose Privacy, then Health. If your phone supports COVID Alert, you'll see at the top of the screen, "COVID-19 Exposure Logging." If you do not see this option, try updating your operating system, if the update is available for your phone.
On Android phones
Go to Settings, then choose Google. If your phone supports COVID Alert, you'll see COVID-19 Exposure Notifications at the top of the screen. If you do not see this option, try updating your operating system and your Google Play Services, if the updates are available for your phone.
Problem enabling some Android phones
Some Android users have told us when they try to enable the app, nothing happens. We're looking into this problem. It looks like it may be an issue with phones that are not running Google Play Services.
iPhone notifications do not match the app's exposure notifications
Some iPhone users get weekly notifications about potential exposures. Follow app notifications instead of iPhone weekly updates.
Apple is working to match our app notifications.
COVID Alert is compatible with Apple or Android phones released within the past 5 years. These phone requirements are set by Apple and Google. Unfortunately, older phones cannot support the new operating systems required by the Exposure Notifications framework.
COVID Alert is one part of our public health effort to limit COVID-19. The app does not replace manual contact tracing by local public health authorities. Manual contact tracing is available to everyone in Canada, along with other important resources.
Location and Android phones
If you have an Android phone, you need to turn on Location for COVID Alert to work. To use Bluetooth scanning, Android phones need Location setting on for all apps.
While COVID Alert has no way of knowing where you are, Google may have access to your location. You can use the lowest accuracy option for Location and turn off Google Location History.
You can check the app's permissions in your phone's settings. You'll see that COVID Alert does not have permission to use location services.
Trouble with your one-time key
If you got an error when you tried to enter your one-time key, one of the following situations could apply:
- You entered something wrong.
- Your key expired. The one-time keys are only good for 24 hours.
- You already entered a key successfully. You only need to enter the key once, even though you'll be asked to upload your codes each day for 13 days after your first upload.
- The server had a problem when it tried to check your key. Wait five minutes and then try entering your one-time key again.
- Your app may need updating. Go to the app store and update the app.
To get a one-time key
People can only get one-time keys in:
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
In New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan
If you test positive for COVID-19, public health gives you a one-time key along with your positive test result. You can only get one key, and it expires in 24 hours.
If you're having trouble with your key, go back into the Test Results Website and get a new one or call your local public health authority.
To check if it's working
Once you've installed COVID Alert, you do not need to keep the app open for it to work. COVID Alert works in the background whether you have it open or not.
If you're wondering if the app is working correctly, you can look for the exposure logs in your phone's settings. The app checks for exposures every day when it's connected to the Internet, from 1 to 6 times per day.
Go to Settings, then choose Privacy, then Health, then COVID-19 Exposure Logging. Tap "Exposure Checks" to see when your phone has checked for exposures.
On Android phones
Go to Settings, then choose Google, then COVID-19 Exposure Notifications. There you'll see the last time the app checked for exposures.
Not downloading or opening
Your phone's operating system may not be supported. You can check your phone's operating system in your phone's settings.
- For iPhones, you need to be running iOS version 13.5.1 or later versions
- For Android phones, you need to be running Android 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10
The app is crashing
- If the app has crashed, first close all the apps running on your phone, including COVID Alert, and then restart COVID Alert.
- If that doesn't work, try turning your phone off and then back on. (We know, it's never fun to hear this, but it really does work sometimes!)
- If that doesn't work, try updating the app through the app store.
- If that doesn't work, help us help you. This is a new app, and we're constantly working to improve it. Please tell us the nature of your problem.
To stop using the app
You can delete the app at any time. If you delete the app after reporting a diagnosis, you will not be able to upload your random codes, even if you re-install it.
We'd love to hear from you if your reasons for deleting the app could help make it better.
What happens to your data
If you delete the app, the random codes stored on your phone's Exposure Log will also be automatically deleted after 15 days. You can delete your Exposure Log yourself from your phone's settings for COVID-19 Exposure Logging. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Health > COVID-19 Exposure Logging and scroll to the bottom to choose Delete Exposure Logs. On Android phones, go to Settings > Google > COVID-19 Exposure Notifications and choose Delete Random IDs.
If you delete the app after reporting a diagnosis through the app, the random codes will be deleted from the server after 15 days.
Battery life and data usage
The exposure notification framework uses low-energy Bluetooth, so it's designed not to use too much of your phone's battery. However, battery life may be quite different between different models and operating systems. The app runs in the background and should not affect anything else you use your phone for.
COVID Alert needs an Internet connection at least once each day to work, and it could be through Wi-Fi or a data plan. When it's connected, it uses a very small amount of data, about the same as receiving a single email per day.
COVID Alert was made with a focus on security and privacy. It also had thorough security reviews by both BlackBerry and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. We have manual and automatic checks in place to ensure the integrity, reliability and confidentiality of the COVID Alert system. All data transmitted between phones and the server is encrypted.
The app intentionally does not collect any personally identifiable information, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was consulted throughout the app's development.
Apartments, condos and rooming houses
COVID Alert uses Bluetooth to estimate how close people are by measuring the strength of the signal. It is designed to ignore encounters with phones that are further than 2 metres away or in different rooms or units.
However, the technology is not perfect. Bluetooth signals can be affected by things like metals or even microwave ovens, and there's no way for the app to overcome this effect. As the app is developed and tested through research, real-world analysis of different environments, like apartment buildings and different building materials, we may further improve the app.
If you have 2 smartphones
Pick the phone you keep with you the most to download the app on to. If you share one of your phones with a family member, then it's fine to have the app on both phones.
Travelling with the app
Across provinces or territories
Provincial and territorial governments are working to support COVID Alert across Canada. In some places, people cannot yet report a COVID-19 diagnosis through this app. When you're travelling, keep your province or territory set to where you live rather than where you are at any given time.
It's still helpful to keep COVID Alert on, no matter where you are. That way, when people are able to report a diagnosis, you'll find out if you were near them.
In other countries
At the moment, COVID Alert cannot tell you about possible exposures from people using other countries' exposure notification apps.
Once you've turned on Airplane mode, you can turn on Bluetooth separately in your phone's settings so the app can keep working.
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