Coronavirus app 'blip' wrongly tells hundreds of Scots to self-isolate

16 December 2020, 21:43 | Updated: 16 December 2020, 21:47

Hundreds of Scots may have been wrongly told to self-isolate by the app
Hundreds of Scots may have been wrongly told to self-isolate by the app. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

A "blip" with Scotland's coronavirus phone app could have resulted in hundreds of people being incorrectly told to self-isolate.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the problem, which stemmed from an upgrade to the Protect Scotland app, has now been fixed.

But she urged anyone told to self-isolate between a minute after midnight on Monday and 8.30am on Tuesday to get in touch with contact tracers to find out if a period of quarantine is necessary.

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Details of the fault emerged at the First Minister's coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, during which she revealed 900 people had received a message telling them to self-isolate over that 32.5-hour period.

Over that time-frame, it would normally be expected that about 250 people would receive a notification to self-isolate.

But Ms Sturgeon said the app - which has been downloaded more than 1.7 million times - had been "configured in an overly sensitive way during that period".

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She added: "It does mean some people will have received notifications in that period who do not actually need to self-isolate."

Anyone notified to self-isolate over the period concerned can call the National Contact Tracing Centre on 0800 030 8012.

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Ms Sturgeon added: "If you are one of the people who have been notified incorrectly, they will advise you of that."

She insisted the phone app had been "working really well at all other times", and added: "This was a one-off blip as a result of an upgrade to the app and it has now been fixed."

Nicola Sturgeon apologised for the coronavirus app error
Nicola Sturgeon apologised for the coronavirus app error. Picture: PA Images

Later in the briefing, the First Minister apologised for the error, saying: "It was a mistake, a technical mistake that's been identified and fixed and I'm standing here being up-front about it.

"So yes, I'm sorry that happened."

When asked what the precise problem with the update to the app was, the First Minister said she did not have the necessary technical knowledge of the issue.

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"Everybody who has a smartphone knows that apps upgrade regularly, and this was an update of the app that threw something off kilter that meant that people who should not have been notified were notified and that had something to do with an overly sensitive calculation of time and distance," the First Minister said.

"Occasionally, particularly when we're dealing with technology, these things do happen."