THE NEW COVID-19 ALERT APP IS ON THE WAY FROM BOTH GOVERNMENTS – YOUR PRIVACY? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW APP.
As CKL reopens gradually, the Ontario government plans to improve case and contact management to more quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential future waves.
These additional measures include a comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management, and, in partnership with the federal government, a new made-in-Ontario national app called COVID Alert.
The government's enhanced strategy focuses on strengthening and standardizing case and contact management by:
Ensuring that all new cases and their close contacts are identified early, contacted quickly, investigated thoroughly and are followed up with daily for up to 14 days;
Supporting public health units with up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada;
Improving technology tools by modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) through the implementation of a new custom-built COVID-19 case and contact management system; and
Launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Ontario is providing updated case and contact management guidance for all public health units to ensure consistency across the province. To continue to ensure cases and their contacts are reached in a timely and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health units will:
Connect with cases, and with all individuals who have had close contact with a positive case, within 24 hours of being identified;
Direct all close contacts to self-isolate for up to 14 days;
Follow up with close contacts every day for the duration of their self-isolation; and
Advise testing of all appropriate close contacts.
To augment the current provincial capacity of approximately 2,000 case managers and contact tracers, Ontario is providing additional contact tracing staff. New and expanded capacity will be provided through Statistics Canada with access to up to 1,700 additional staff, available to all provinces, for contact tracing. Public Health Ontario will continue overseeing the training and coordination of these additional resources.
Over the summer and into the fall, Ontario will continue to build a supplementary pool of contact tracers from the Ontario Public Service and the broader public sector for additional surge capacity, as required. This will allow public health units to perform their other critical functions, including inspections of food premises and water in recreational facilities, and vaccinations.
To help Ontarians stay safe as the province reopens and social interactions increase, Ontario will be partnering with the federal government to launch COVID Alert, a new privacy-first exposure notification app, within the next two weeks. The made-in-Ontario app was developed by the Ontario Digital Service (ODS) and a group of volunteers from Shopify. One of the overarching principles is ensuring the privacy and security for all users, which is why the government will leverage BlackBerry volunteer expertise to audit the security and privacy of the application, in addition to the province's internal security reviews.
Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. In Ontario, the app will also provide users with quick access to Ontario's public health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested. Using a national application will help ensure that Ontarians are notified, regardless of which province they are in, helping us towards the goal of ensuring we can all move more freely and safely.
Ontario is also implementing a new user-friendly case and contact management system that will integrate with COVID-19 laboratory results from the Ontario Laboratory Information System (OLIS) data, making current processes significantly more efficient and reducing the administrative burden for public health unit staff. A single central system will enable the province to identify provincewide regional trends and hotspots, while protecting personal health information. Custom-built on the Salesforce platform, the new system will also allow for a remote workforce, enabling contact tracing to be quickly ramped up when required.
Everyone should continue to follow public health guidelines to stay safe, including physical distancing with people not in your social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and, if you think you have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, getting tested.
June 18th, 2020
Posted in COVID-19