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Canada's COVID Alert app will be discontinued as PCR testing becomes rare

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Canada's COVID Alert app will be discontinued in the coming days, a federal government source tells The Canadian Press.

The app was launched in the summer of 2020 as the pandemic began and billed as a way to alert people if they've been in close contact with someone who's been infected with COVID-19, without collecting personal data.

But it requires users to enter a one-time key, given to them when they receive a positive PCR test result, and with many provinces replacing PCR testing with rapid testing, the user keys are not being given out.

The app has been criticized as being ineffective and not living up to expectations, and while 6.89 million people had downloaded it as of Feb. 1, only 57,704 user keys have been used.

Meanwhile, there have been an estimated 3.87 million COVID-19 infections in Canada since the pandemic began and more than 41,000 people have died.

The COVID Alert App cost $20 million, with the majority of that -- $15.9 million -- spent on promotion and advertising, and another $3.5 million on developing and maintaining the app.

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