How to control COVID-19 exposure notifications on iPhone

With the omicron variant running COVID-19, it’s time for iPhone owners to take advantage of the exposure notification feature built into iOS. By simply enabling this feature, you will receive an alert after being exposed to someone who is positive for the virus – as long as it has contact notifications turned on and reports test results.

For obvious reasons, this automatic version of contact tracking works more efficiently if more people use it. If you find that you have been in close contact with an infected person, you can take appropriate steps (testing, keeping away from vulnerable people, etc.)

We will show you how to take control of COVID-19 exposure notifications on your device.

Why include iPhone exposure notifications?

The basic smartphone exposure notification technology, developed jointly by Apple and Google in the first months of the pandemic, is designed to automate contact tracking. It works in conjunction with contact tracking applications developed by health authorities in regions around the world.

Although used in a variety of locations for more than a year, the recent rise in omicron – and a record number of new COVID-19 infections – has led many iPhone owners to get their first exposure notifications.

It is very important to know if you have been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This information can help you make better decisions about who you have contact with, protecting your family, friends, colleagues, and anyone else you might see face to face.

Therefore, it is a good idea to provide exposure notifications. Here’s how to access your notification settings.

super interesting topic about exposure notifications and why they have not gained ubiquitous application in the US

How to enable COVID-19 exposure notifications

Exposure notifications are not enabled by default on your iPhone. You will need to activate them manually if you want to receive them. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn it on bluetooth if not already included.
  2. Open up Settings app on your iPhone.
  3. Touch Exposure notices.
  4. Touch Include Exposure Notices.
  5. Hit Go on, then select your country.
  6. Select your country or region if needed.

Continue following the instructions until you have completed the setup. If your country or region has its own contact tracking app, you’ll be prompted to download it from the App Store. You agree to the terms presented. And when the pop-up window asks you to allow notifications for exposure notifications, tap Turn it on.

You should also include Availability alerts. That way, if you travel to a new region, you will be informed that you can join that system.

What to do if you get an exposure warning

After enabling exposure notifications, your iPhone will exchange anonymous tokens with other smartphone owners. If you spend some time near someone who is later positive for COVID-19, you will receive a warning about possible exposure.

What should you do then?

“The first thing to do: breathe and don’t panic for the simple reason that the app doesn’t know how protected you were at the time or whether it was a credible exposure,” said an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. Peter. Chin-Hong said SFGate.

Chin-Hong recommended testing after receiving an exposure warning. Details of the time and date of your contact with an infected person can be found by looking at the exposure notification application. Chin-Hong said that it is ideal to get tested three to five days after the date of exposure – especially if you suffer from any symptoms of COVID-19. And you should consider telling other people you’ve been in contact with since you were exposed.

Why the system was not as successful as possible

Due to concerns about privacy, misinformation and possible paranoia, some people are afraid to use the exposure notification system. And the lack of widespread adoption has diminished the potential of the technology.

A recent story in Washington Post discussed the problem:

Nearly two years later, as the omicron variant spreads to the United States, the adoption of the system is still far behind what its creators and proponents envisioned. More than 20 states do not use it at all, including major states like Florida and Texas that have reported millions of cases and tens of thousands of deaths. Even in countries where millions have activated notifications, only a small proportion of people who are positive for the virus report it to Apple and Google. The California system, for example, has been activated on more than 15 million devices, but only about 3 percent of the nearly 3.9 million reported launch cases have been recorded in the system.

Involving more people in the system increases network efficiency. And, obviously, if you enable exposure notifications and a later positive test for COVID-19, you should report the test result.

How to disable COVID-19 exposure notifications

The more people who use the exposure notification system, the more useful it should be. However, if for any reason you want to opt out, you can turn off exposure notifications.

To disable exposure notifications on iPhone, simply follow the same steps above, but in the third step, select Turn off exposure notifications. You can also delete your touch exposure records Exposure recording statusand then by selecting Delete the exposure record. This will permanently remove all logging information from your iPhone.

Apple wants to insist that enabling exposure notifications will not affect your privacy. The system uses completely random keys that cannot be used for your identification. And those keys are changed at least once in 24 hours.

“We have built an Exposure Notification System to help public health authorities during this historic pandemic in a way that preserves privacy. “We are proud to work with public health authorities and provide resources – used by millions of people around the world – to help protect public health,” said Google’s Nicolas Lopez and Apple’s Semonti Stephens in a joint statement.

Note: This article was originally published on December 11, 2020.

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Naveen Kumar

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