Covid Tracker app issues close contact alerts to 20,000 people in six months

HSE unable to say home many of those notified of exposures later tested positive

More than 20,000 people have received alerts saying they have been in close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case through the Health Service Executive (HSE)’s Covid Tracker phone app since it was released in July. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

More than 20,000 people have received alerts saying they have been in close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case through the Health Service Executive (HSE)’s Covid Tracker phone app since it was released in July. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

 

More than 20,000 people have received alerts saying they have been in close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case through the Health Service Executive (HSE)’s Covid Tracker phone app since it was released in July.

The app, which cost about €850,000 to develop and has an annual running cost of some €400,000, currently has more than 1.3 million active users, the HSE said.

Some 20,298 people have received close contact alerts through the app, however, a HSE spokeswoman said the total was likely some 25 per cent higher as “some people do not enter a phone number or enable metrics”.

Asked if many of those who received alerts later tested positive for Covid-19, she said this data was under review and not currently available.

An issue arose in August with the app where users with Android phones experienced battery draining issues, which led a significant number of people to uninstall the app. The issue was resolved within days. Other issues relating to background processing that were reported in October, but later resolved by Apple, Google and in conjunction with the HSE team, she said.

Asked if many people had deleted the app, the spokeswoman said: “App deletion and app abandonment should not be confused, people often delete and reinstall apps - not just Covid Tracker”.

Since December 23rd, an estimated 94,804 people have installed the app, and 47,798 have uninstalled, the spokeswoman added.

As a result of pressure on the testing and tracing system, the HSE is no longer testing close contacts of confirmed cases. However, this decision does not affect the way in which the app operates.

“The app is serving it’s primary purpose; close contacts are being notified via the app that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.”