Accessibility of the COVID Alert application criticize and COVID forward a new “phase”

The federal government’s COVID-19 contact tracing app has come under fire for its download requirements. Which prevent some Canadians from accessing and using the app.
The free “COVID Alert” app. Which has been available since Friday. Design for track the location of phones in relation to each other, without centrally collecting personal data.

Users will alert if their phone has recently been near the phone of someone. Who has subsequently voluntarily that they test positive for COVID-19.

But the app requires users to have Apple or Android phones manufactured within the past five years and a relatively new operating system.

Christopher Parsons, senior research associate at Citizen Lab. Which is part of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Policy, says this makes the app inaccessible to older Canadians and other marginalized groups.

“The hardest hit by the pandemic are black people, aboriginal people, people of color, people who are often in a lower socio-economic bracket. Who will not be able to install the application? This same group, that’s a problem, ”he argued.

Mr. Parsons believes that the criticisms should be directed at the federal government, not at those who designed the app.

He believes that the technical aspects of the application, such as its ease of use and its performance in both official languages.

“Technically, The developers congratulate” he said. It is a failure of politics. The government should have seen this , and it should have done something to try to fix it. “

The issue of the need for an app that works with older models of smartphones was known from the start, he added.

For a contact tracing app to work properly, 65 to 80 percent of all Canadians must use it. He said. The current version of the application makes this impossible.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat referred questions about the technical requirements of the app to Google and Apple. But stressed that the app is just one tool among many to slow the spread of the app. COVID-19.

The Secretariat did not respond to a question about a potential timeline for resolving the issue.

Ontario Legislative Assembly NDP MP Marit Stiles took to Twitter about her parents’ frustration with trying to download the app.

Ms. Stiles’ parents, both aged 70, tried to download the app to their old iPhones, but it didn’t work.

Ms. Stiles said this raises accessibility concerns for more vulnerable Canadians.

“I think everyone agrees that the app isn’t a bad idea,” she said. We know that seniors, new Canadians, racialized people are the most likely to contract or affect COVID-19. So it could be problematic that the app only works with new phones the most advanced or the most expensive. ”

For now, the smartphone app tied to the Ontario health care system, with the Atlantic provinces expect to be next to the network.

Neither Apple nor Google responded to requests for comment on accessibility issues.

“New phase”

The pace of the pandemic continues to accelerate globally, with one million more cases detected worldwide in less than four days.

In terms of deaths. The United States is by far the most heavily, with 154,834 dead. There is including 515 in the past 24 hours. Next come Brazil (94,104 dead), Mexico (47,746), the United Kingdom (46,193) and India (37,364).

Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 201,000 dead, is now the second worst affected region after Europe, with more than 210,000 dead.

In Argentina. The health ministry announced that 200,000 cases of contamination had been exceeded and that social gatherings would get ban throughout the country from Monday.

In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday ordered a strict quarantine across the country.