The Health Service Executive reassured users of its contact tracing app that a software update sent to all Android users would fix a battery life issue that caused 83,000 people to remove the app from their phone.
Users of the app started reporting issues over the weekend, saying the devices were showing rapid battery drain and in some cases experiencing heat issues.
Some of the app’s 1.5 million users removed it from their devices in an attempt to fix the issue, but the HSE said 10,000 had already reinstalled the app.
“The HSE worked with Google and NearForm over the weekend to resolve the issue. HSE, NearForm and Google have also implemented additional measures to improve the resiliency of the exposure notification system and ensure that these types of issues do not recur, ”said the HSE.
“Google has informed us that the majority of Android phones in Ireland have been updated, but it may take around a day for each Android phone to receive the update. We encourage anyone who uninstalled the app over the weekend to download it again in the next few days.
The HSE apologized to users and clarified that uninstalling the app would not remove any close contacts saved on the phone in the past 14 days.
Although the exact cause of the problem has not been confirmed, the battery issues appear to have been limited to Irish app users and largely affected those on Android.
The Exposure Notification System was developed by Google and Apple to make it easier for contact tracing applications to access Bluetooth and to allow phones running operating systems to exchange anonymous identifiers.
The app works by using your phone’s Bluetooth signal to exchange a digital ‘handshake’ with another device also running the Covid Tracker app, when users come within two meters of each other for longer. 15 minutes.
Anonymous keys are stored in a log on the phone, which the HSE can ask users to download if they are diagnosed positive for Covid-19. This log can then be used to track unnamed contacts, with an alert sent to affected people through the app.
The latest HSE figures show that as of Sunday evening 1,573,020 people had downloaded the app.
The HSE said an average of 10,000 to 20,000 people download the Covid-19 tracking app each day, with the figure tending to be higher after “bad news” such as a significant increase in the number of cases of coronavirus.
The number of people who have received close contact alerts through the Republic’s Covid Tracker app has reached 137 since the app launched on July 7.
Of these 137 close contact alerts, 129 people subsequently chose to speak to the HSE contact tracing team for advice and offered testing.
The HSE also revealed that 58 people who tested positive for Covid-19 downloaded the random identifiers generated by their phones to anonymously alert people they were in close contact with.