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Active Irish COVID-19 tracing app users drop on battery problem - HSE

FILE PHOTO: The COVID Tracker Ireland app used for contact tracing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is displayed on a mobile phone, as it is held up for an illustration photograph in Galway, Ireland, July 30, 2020. Picture taken July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/Illustration/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A brief technical issue led some people to delete Ireland’s COVID-19 tracing app, leaving 1.2 million active users compared to the 1.65 million who downloaded it since early July, the head of Ireland’s health service operator said on Thursday.

Ireland’s app has been downloaded by 33% of the population - among the highest take up rates in Europe - and its developers have since been hired to roll out a similar service in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Gibraltar and Pennsylvania.

Like many European versions, Ireland's app uses architecture designed by Alphabet's Google GOOGL.O and Apple AAPL.O. A Google Play Services update caused the app to rapidly drain handset batteries for a two-day period earlier this month.

“There were some issues, which we have addressed with Google and Apple. We’ve a total of 1.65 million downloads, there were of course some that were deleted and we’ve probably about 1.2 million active users but we are seeing people reloading,” Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid told a news conference.

A total of 308 users registered positive tests in the app’s first seven weeks of operation, generating almost 700 close contact alerts, a proportion of whom subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, Reid added.

“The app is working, it is an element of our key tools in terms of contact tracing and testing,” he said.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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