Canada sunsets its COVID Alert app based on the iOS and Android exposure notification API

The government of Canada today announced that it is ending use of the app it commissioned based on the COVID-19 exposure alert API developed jointly by Google and Apple as a measure to help combat the spread of the illness. The system is disabled immediately, according to a government alert, which also advises users to delete the COVID Alert app from their devices.

As to why it’s ending the program, the release indicates that it’s tied to a significant drop in PCR testing in the country, which is resulting in very few one-time keys being issued to patients for use in the app, so usage has apparently slowed to a trickle.

Canada implemented the COVID Alert app in July 2020, and Health Canada says that since then it’s been downloaded by 6.9 million people, and provided notifications of exposures on behalf of 57,000 people who tested positive and entered their one-time key into the app.

The COVID Alert app was developed in part by engineers at Shopify, with security review by BlackBerry, working in collaboration with provincial and federal government resources.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, the health system is seeing record demand — mostly due to spin-off effects from COVID, including staff outages, rather than COVID cases themselves. Wastewater data (the best source of infection info since most at-scale PCR testing programs have been suspended) from Ontario also indicates a rise in COVID cases in the province over the past couple of weeks.