Covid-19 tracker app: ‘1,500 people downloading a day’

HSE says 1.28 million devices have the application downloaded

About 1,500 people per day are downloading the Covid-19 tracker app, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said, bringing the number of devices with the application installed to 1.28 million.

The app was launched in early July, and the HSE said the number of people who have the app downloaded increases each day.

The health service acknowledged a “significant number” of people with Android phones uninstalled the app due to a battery issue in early August.

“Those issues were fixed quickly, and we are seeing the number of Android devices with the app installed returning to levels achieved before this issue,” a spokeswoman said.


More than 300 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 have uploaded the random IDs that have been generated by their phone to anonymously alert people they were in close contact with.

The HSE has recorded nearly 900 close contact alerts through the app since its launch.

“As we have said from the start, the app does not replace the normal contact tracing process but is a really significant enhancement. It can help us to speed up the contact tracing process in some instances,” the spokeswoman said.

“People can restrict their movements as soon as they get an alert while they are waiting to talk to the contact tracing team who will arrange a test for them. This is really important as it reduces the number of people that could potentially be exposed to the virus.”

The HSE said that no form of contract tracing can pick up 100 per cent of close contacts but noted the benefits of combining manual and app-based contact tracing.

“One of the most significant benefits is its ability to identify and communicate with close contacts that are unknown to each other. Manual contact tracing simply can’t do this. These types of close contact might happen in a restaurant, café, out shopping or on public transport,” the HSE spokeswoman said.

The Covid-19 tracker app determines the default language of the phone and presents the app in that language assuming the translations are present.

The most recent update included a Portuguese translation, and future versions will be released in the languages used most widely by people on Ireland, based on data from the Central Statistics Office and the HSE's Social Inclusion Office.

Asked about issues around the accessibility of the app for some older phones, the spokeswoman said although the app will work on older phones, the “ underlying Exposure Notification System (ENS) which enables the contact tracing function is not available”.

"This is out of our control, but we have requested that Apple and Google work to make ENS available on as many phones as possible," she said.

“We are continuing to explore other options to make the app more universal, including the possible use of wearable devices.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast