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Japan's COVID-19 app reaches 4 million downloads in first week

23 Comments

Japan's COVID-19 contact-tracing app has been downloaded more than 4 million times since its launch a week ago as the government seeks to head off a second wave of infections now that businesses and schools have reopened.

Tokyo recorded 54 new infections on Friday.

Health ministry official Yasuyuki Sahara said while there was no target number for downloads, "we want to make as many people as possible to use this app".

Apps such as this may be able to halt an epidemic if usage reaches 60% of the population, according to an Oxford University study.

Yuki Furuse, a professor at Kyoto University, said there's debate about whether usage has to be that high to be effective, but "the more people use the app, the more it would be effective for the outbreak response."

Japan lifted a state of emergency in late May. It has weathered the epidemic better than most developed countries, with almost 18,000 infections and 969 deaths.

The app, named COCOA for Contact-Confirming Application, was designed by Microsoft Corp and is available for Apple Inc's iPhone and 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 program.

Numerous countries have rolled out contact-tracing apps, including Australia, Malaysia, Britain, India, Germany and Italy.

Singapore was among the first with its TraceTogether app launched in March, but privacy concerns hampered its uptake, prompting a switch to wearable devices.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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And just yesterday there was news about bugs in this app. There's no mention if it was patched in this article, so in essence 4 mil users have a buggy app?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Downloaded it since the beginning but drains my battery out with Bluetooth on all the time. And the app does not tell you anything, unless you come into near distance with someone infected? I don't know how useful it is. I have seen the Korean app and it is much clearer with a map as you know where the infected person or people are in what area, and you can choose to stay away from that area.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

now the GOV can play SIMS for real with the tracking system. do not worry . even without entering your personal info , the matching with imei and phone number will give all info they need. the next patch will take more of your freedom . who are those 4 millions....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

we want to make as many people as possible to use this app".

Apps such as this may be able to halt an epidemic if usage reaches 60% of the population, according to an Oxford University study.

It amazes me that people don't think the pcr testing rate has no bearing on the performance of the app.

The app is useless if pcr testing is not carried out massively. At the present pathetic rate of testing the app alerting an infected person is as difficult as winning a lottery.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Downloaded it - My Bluettoth is always on all the time. Haven't noticed any difference at all (since last week) Suggest new phone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

50+ cases in Tokyo today...

1 ( +6 / -5 )

What is the point of this App? There's no follow-up. Even if you know you are exposed, you cannot get testing or treatment. Until they update the guidelines to reflect the existence of this App, this is not helpful at all, only makes people worry.

The current criteria to be considered for testing is listed below on page 9. You still need severe enough disease to qualify for hospitalization to qualify for testing unless you return from overseas.

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/content/000631552.pdf

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@indigo

 even without entering your personal info , the matching with imei and phone number will give all info they need. the next patch will take more of your freedom 

I have the android version and it doesn't seem to have the READ_PHONE_STATE permission, so it can't get your phone number or IMEI number. If you want to add permissions to an Android app with an update you have to persuade the user to opt back in.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@blahblah222

What is the point of this App? There's no follow-up. Even if you know you are exposed, you cannot get testing or treatment.

As the link you posted says, you can get tested without symptoms or returning from overseas if you're consider a close contact (濃厚接触者), defined as close proximity for at least 15 minutes. That's exactly what this app detects, so they'll test people who are identified by the app.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Common Japan, I know there is some good news in there somewhere!!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Hooray. Let me download a bugged app to give me info about a fraction of 15-20 million people that are in Tokyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

so 4 million people are that damn silly

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let me asked one question. If no media, no internet, no TV would run this Corona story would you actually see anything different than you seen before? So where is this deadly pandemic than? Just a mind construct in your head....?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The cluster in the office building?

Did you want to stay away from the office building with multiple infections?

Did you want to know the trains, station exits and coffee shops where the infected staff bought their morning coffee?

Maybe you were in the queue?

Maybe you were in the same elevators?

The same building?

Well, none of that is reported!

The information is not shared!

Nobody is interviewed about their recovery!

Maybe it is some sort of game where numbers are read out on the news every now and then or a new topic for politicians to endlessly talk about?

And I’d be wondering if this pandemic wasn’t some sort of an illusion too if I didn’t know a recovered patient personally...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This COVID-19 virus tracking app is useless. what purpose does it server when you cant even get tested and no way a redicolous app is going to prevent you from another virus victim getting close when they clearly dont even know how this virus spreads so rapidly. All guessing games. Don;t waiste your efforts and time on a useless app made by a govt to track you. I even think the abe stimuls package of given everyone in Japan free money is supcisious as they want to know your bank account info for some odd reason in exchange for 10 man yen....

1 ( +3 / -2 )

no way a redicolous app is going to prevent you from another virus victim getting close when they clearly dont even know how this virus spreads so rapidly.

You seem to be criticizing the app for doing something it doesn't do, wasn't built to do, was not claimed it would do, nor is expected by anyone who built it to do that.

The app isn't mean to prevent you from getting the virus. It's meant to help trace the virus backwards, so that people who have it, but aren't showing symptoms, can quarantine so as to prevent further spread.

So the app may prevent you from getting the virus even if you don't get the app, because someone may find out they may have the virus, and not go out, meaning that you wouldn't get it from them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What is the point of this App? There's no follow-up. Even if you know you are exposed, you cannot get testing or treatment. Until they update the guidelines to reflect the existence of this App, this is not helpful at all, only makes people worry.

The app isn't mean to prevent you from getting the virus

The app shows the current infection hot spots. So if known people with Covid are in your area quarantining, it will show that. If known Covid people are moving around it will also show that. I would assume your cell phone will be notified by text if you were in an area or cross paths with someone that was recently diagnosed and will ask you to come in for testing.

This system works very well in China/South Korea and warns when Covid is bad in your area and you have the ability to work around that. You are also being tracked/traced and that info can be helpful for future testing.

Example: You have a Dr appt. You check the app and notice that place has high Covid activity recently. = You reschedule your appt or go knowing that the Covid rate is high for this area. It also puts pressure for businesses and communities to work harder to combat this engineered virus.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The app shows the current infection hot spots. So if known people with Covid are in your area quarantining, it will show that. If known Covid people are moving around it will also show that. I would assume your cell phone will be notified by text if you were in an area or cross paths with someone that was recently diagnosed and will ask you to come in for testing.

This system works very well in China/South Korea and warns when Covid is bad in your area and you have the ability to work around that. You are also being tracked/traced and that info can be helpful for future testing.

Example: You have a Dr appt. You check the app and notice that place has high Covid activity recently. = You reschedule your appt or go knowing that the Covid rate is high for this area. It also puts pressure for businesses and communities to work harder to combat this engineered virus.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I even think the abe stimuls package of given everyone in Japan free money is supcisious as they want to know your bank account info for some odd reason in exchange for 10 man yen....

If you believe they don't already have access to this information...maybe you should lay off the oxycodin.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The app shows the current infection hot spots.

Is that an assumption or confirmed? It doesn't sound right to me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is that an assumption or confirmed? It doesn't sound right to me.

It's not right. It doesn't show hotspots, the only way for it to give you information is if you're in contact with someone who tests positive, at which point it will notify you.

If you published the whole travel history of anyone who tested positive you'd risk deanonymising them. South Korea has pretty much done that and there's definitely an argument for it, but a lot of people here seem to be worried about privacy, and if too many people are worried about privacy then they won't install the app. So the Google/Apple approach used here is to manage the minimum possible information that will allow you to answer the question "was I in close contact with someone who tested positive".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not right. It doesn't show hotspots, the only way for it to give you information is if you're in contact with someone who tests positive, at which point it will notify you.

That's what I thought. It's impossible to show you a current hotspot, as we can only find out where the virus has been, through testing, which by definition occurs after the fact. It can't show where the app is currently spreading.

However, not having used the app, I was open to the possibility that it may have been built to show locations where there had been clusters, and label that as a current hotspot. This would explain the poster's misunderstanding of the reality, as they would have been misled by the app. But if the app isn't showing current hotspots, then the poster was just making incorrect assumptions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Oxycodin: So, I assume you didn't claim your 100,000 Yen then? If you are that paranoid, I certainly wouldn't have had! You are aware that the tax office (i.e. the Government) can monitor transactions anyway, aren't you?

Thats how people who aren't smart enough moving money around get audited. You really think there is any privacy here?

I've downloaded the app - I don't think it will do a lot of good, but who knows? If enough people do, maybe it will someday. 4 million in a week isn't a bad pick up rate considering there is a very vocal group (like yourself) raising conspiracy/privacy concerns .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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