Apple update fixes inconsistent COVID-19 exposure notifications issue on iPhone

Health Canada says users should only take action if the COVID Alert app itself says they've been exposed

COVID Alert app on iOS

Some Canadians have reported receiving COVID-19 exposure notifications from their iPhone’s operating systems, while the COVID Alert app says they didn’t have any potential exposures.

Users have taken to Reddit and Twitter to share their experiences and confusion, and now Health Canada and the Canadian Digital Service has confirmed that there may be a discrepancy between the notifications from Apple’s operating system and COVID Alert.

The agencies confirmed to MobileSyrup that these inconsistent notifications are coming from Apple’s operating system and not the government’s COVID Alert app. They note that iPhone users should update to iOS 13.7 since Apple has now fixed the issue.

“There have been some instances of COVID Alert users on Apple operating systems getting exposure notifications from their phone’s operating system and not from the COVID Alert app itself,” a spokesperson for the Canadian Digital Service said in an email.

The spokesperson notes that if users receive a notification from their operating system stating that they’ve been exposed, they should check COVID Alert to verify before taking action.

“If you get a notification from your operating system that you have been exposed, check the COVID Alert app before taking action. If the COVID Alert app indicates that you have been exposed to COVID-19, follow public health guidance,” the spokesperson stated.

It appears that this issue has been going on for at least a few weeks, as a Toronto resident shared a similar experience on Reddit on September 20th.

MobileSyrup is aware of another instance where a user was notified by Apple’s COVID-19 Exposure Logging system that their device “identified 7 potential exposures this week, and shared them with COVID Alert.”

However, once the user opened the COVID Alert app, it said that they had not encountered any potential exposures.

It’s clear that the notifications discrepancy has caused some confusion, but the good news is that Canadians can avoid similar instances by updating to the latest version of iOS 13.

Health Canada and the Canadian Digital Service note that the government is reassessing and updating COVID Alert as more provinces are joining the app.

“The COVID Alert app is continually reassessed and updated as it rolls out across the country based on provincial needs, user research and testing,” the spokesperson outlined.

COVID Alert is currently available in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. It’s launching in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia soon.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.