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3 Feb, 2021 11:55

Covid-19 app failed to pass on contact warnings for Android users since September, says Japanese govt

Covid-19 app failed to pass on contact warnings for Android users since September, says Japanese govt

The Japanese minister of health has apologized after it was revealed that Japan's Covid-19 warning app had a bug which meant it failed to pass on some notifications of suspected contact with people infected with the virus.

"I am truly sorry for the inconvenience caused and for the loss of trust," health minister Norihisa Tamura said on Wednesday, according to state broadcaster NHK, as he confirmed that a problem with the nation's Covid-19 app had prevented alerts from being passed on.

NHK reported that the bug affected about 30 percent of Android phone users since September, meaning that the application did not send notifications for a considerable number of potential Covid-19 contact cases.

The app, named COCOA for Contact-Confirming Application, was designed by Microsoft and was available for download on both Apple and Android devices.

The government said they are working on fixing the app, which has been downloaded 25 million times since its launch last summer, and hoped to correct the faults by mid-February. 

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A number of Covid-19 contact-tracing apps have experienced teething issues. Rather than failing to send notifications, the UK's contact tracing app actually sent false warnings to people, informing the recipient to self-isolate, which later turned out to be system checks sent by Google and Apple.

France's "TousAntiCovid" app was marred with technical problems during its introduction. Users reported not being able to access the app, being stuck on its home page, missing text or only seeing text in English rather than French. Some people were unable to activate the app.

Amid poor uptake, even France's Prime Minister Jean Castex admitted he had not downloaded the app.

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