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Health Canada shuts down COVID Alert app

The application, which cost taxpayers $20 million in development, maintenance and promotion, had just 57,000 positive tests uploaded in its nearly two-year lifespan.

Health Canada shuts down COVID Alert app
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Health Canada announced that it has pulled the plug on the country's COVID Alert app, as notifications are suspended and users were encouraged to delete the application.

Having launched on July 31, 2020, just under 7-million Canadians downloaded the federal government's app. Around 57,000 Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19 then used the app to notify other users of possible exposure.

While around 20% of the country's population downloaded the program, the 57,000 positive cases shared on the COVID Alert app averages out approximately 80 positive tests upload per day. On August 7, only a week after the launch of the app, Canada recorded more than 400 new cases of COVID-19; at the height of daily case numbers, thousands of positive tests were being recorded daily.

Data obtained by The Canadian Press found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government spent $20 million on the creation, advertising and rollout of the COVID Alert app, with $15.9 million going to promotion and $3.5 million to development and maintenance.

“While the pandemic is not over, the decision to decommission COVID Alert comes after careful consideration following discussions with provinces and territories on the ongoing evolution of public health programming that varies in each jurisdiction,” the statement from Health Canada reads.

“We encourage everyone to stay aware of COVID-19 activity in their local area, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, including getting booster doses, and continue to take personal precautions including staying home if sick, improving ventilation and continuing to wear masks when with people in shared indoor or crowded spaces,” Health Canada concluded, while linking to instructions on how to remove the application from mobile phones.

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