COVID-19 tracing app on backburner for now

Record Staff

With the COVID-19 pandemic considered stable in Quebec for the moment, Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, and Minister for Government Digital Transformation, Éric Caire, announced Tuesday the province will not proceed with the immediate use of any contact tracing technology.
Dubé pointed out, however, that public consultations with Quebecers confirmed that the population would be in favour of using the technology.
The government will continue working to prepare the infrastructure and logistics necessary for a rapid, safe and effective deployment of an application, the ministers said, should a second wave occur.
Ministers Caire and Dubé added that the application is an additional tool in the fight against the coronavirus, but that sanitation and good hygiene practices remain the best solutions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement Tuesday Minister Caire called it unthinkable to consider deploying an application without first making sure to obtain the support of the citizens of Quebec. “If the situation required it, the government could deploy the application. We have a responsibility to be ready and to make available to Quebecers the maximum number of tools to stop the spread of the virus, without compromising the security of citizens’ personal information. Should it be deployed, it seems important to me to remind that its use would be voluntary and that its operation would be subject to the active consent of the individual,” Caire said.
The public consultation, held last month, involved 16,456 participants from across Quebec.
Of those, 77 per cent said they believe in the usefulness of such an application, 70 per cent have confidence in its effectiveness, 66 per cent feel they need an application of this type, and 75 of consultation participants said they would install such an application on their smartphone.
According to Caire, the application intended for the Quebec population would be free, anonymous, secure and installed on a voluntary basis and could be temporarily deactivated or deleted at any point. The app would work without GPS geolocation, biometrics or facial recognition and would not track users.
The application would allow an individual with a positive diagnosis to enter, on a voluntary basis, a unique code, provided by a health specialist, to trigger notifications. Using the app,
individuals who have been in close proximity to another person who has tested positive to COVID-19 would be notified.

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