HSE Confirms Close Contact Alerts Bug on Covid Tracker iOS App Fixed

ByLance T. Lee

Oct 22, 2020

An issue that affected close contact alerts for some users of the Covid Tracker app on iPhone has been resolved, according to the HSE.

Some users of the Covid Tracker Ireland app on iPhone have had their close contact alerts delayed due to an error with the app recently. According to Newstalk, an iPhone user reported the issue, claiming that when he checked his exposure notifications in the phone’s settings, he said his exposure log had not been checked for 14 days.

As part of the decentralized contact tracing system, random identifiers collected by the Irish Covid Tracker app are only stored for a maximum of 14 days. During this time, the system will check the phone records several times a day to make it easier to find the contacts.

However, it appears that an error on the iOS version of the app caused a delay in updates between early September and October 20.

After being contacted about this, the HSE confirmed that this was an error on the iOS app and has been resolved as users do not need to take further action. There was no indication of how many app users were affected.

Application update expected soon

In a statement to Newstalk, the HSE said the problem was caused by an “authentication token not synchronizing properly in the application.”

“This has led to failures in the exchange and download of files between the mobile phone application and the IE key registry,” he said.

“This is not an issue that has been widely reported to the HSE. Once it was brought to our attention, we immediately took action to investigate and are now improving backend database monitoring to ensure better visibility globally and identify any similar issues in the future.

The HSE added that an update to the app, which is expected to roll out next week, will help improve the ability to identify similar issues.

The source code for the Covid Tracker Ireland application is now used for other contact tracing applications around the world, including New York and New Jersey. The app has also recently been linked to similar apps from Germany and Italy as part of a new EU-wide system, known as the Interoperability Gateway Service, which has was developed by the European Commission to link national Covid-19 applications across borders.

In its statement on the EU system last week, the government said the Irish app had 2.1 million records since its launch in July and now has an active user base of 1.31 million people, representing 34% of the Irish population over the age of 16.

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