Issues encountered with Bluetooth and COVID-19 tracker app

People in Australia who rely on Bluetooth-connected continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices may experience issues when using a Government-approved COVID-19 tracker app.

COVIDSafe has been launched to help speed up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with a coronavirus infected person.

It relies on Bluetooth which keeps track of which phones have been close to each other for more than 15 minutes.

But Diabetes Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which raises funds to invest in research, and health services, said on its Facebook page that a number of people had reported “connection problems” with their CGM apps.

They said: “We have advised the Department of Health that there may be an issue. If you have downloaded the COVIDSafe app and use a smartphone app with your CGM, you may wish to closely monitor to see if you have any connectivity issues.

“If you are worried, you should temporarily uninstall the COVIDSafe app from your phone.”

A spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the complaint had been passed to the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to investigate further.

More than 3 million people have downloaded the COVID-19 tracker app which was only launched a week ago.

In addition to the problems with blood glucose monitoring technology, concerns have also been raised about how well the app works on the iPhone.

Addressing the iPhone issue, a DTA spokesperson has admitted the Bluetooth functionality is limited when another app is running in the background on an iPhone.

Meanwhile, Apple and Google are building their own contact-tracing app, which the DTA has said it might consider if the latest technology is proven to “enhance the performance of COVIDSafe”.

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