TOKYO (JAPAN) – The Japanese ministry has apologised after it’s COVID-19 tracking application for some smartphone users had a malfunction. The app failed to pass on some notifications of suspected contact with people infected with the virus since September, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
“I am truly sorry for the inconvenience caused and for the loss of trust,” Health minister, Norihisa Tamura said.
The Android-related bug failed to deliver notifications of those contacts, the ministry said in a statement. They, however, did not say if the problem, which came with an update, had contributed to the spread of the virus but it said it was working to fix it by the middle of this month.
State media reported that the bug affected about 30% of Android phone users.
The app, named COCOA (Contact-Confirming Application) was designed by Microsoft Corp and is available for Apple Inc’s iPhone as well as devices using Google’s Android software. It uses Bluetooth signals to detect contact with nearby users lasting 15 minutes or more. If a user later tests positive for the virus their contacts can be traced and notified through the programme.
The programme has been downloaded almost 25 million times in Japan since its launch last summer and has recorded about 10,000 positive coronavirus cases, according to ministry data.