- WhatsApp users will be able to get information related to coronavirus and Covid-19 through chats.
- They can either chat with a WHO expert through WhatsApp or send a message to a specific number to get information.
- Initially the service is available in English but more languages will be added.
The World Health Organization has launched a WhatsApp Health Alert service to help promote accurate information about the novel coronavirus and Covid-19, a disease that the virus causes in humans. Those interested in using the alert service can have quick access to it by logging by opening the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub through a webpage and then chat with WHO team. The chat window opens in WhatsApp.
In another method, users can send a WhatsApp text to number +41 79 893 1892 and activate the service and get coronavirus information.
WhatsApp and WHO have said that the alert will respond to a number of prompts and shall help provide official information on topics such as how to protect yourself from infection, travel advice, and debunking Coronavirus myths. The service is going to be available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
The initiation of the new service seems to be an initiative aimed at stopping fake news that is flourishing across the world as coronavirus infection spreads quickly. According to the WHO and WhatsApp, the service will be updated daily with the latest known developments around the virus. Currently available in English, it will roll out in all the official UN languages in the coming few weeks. These include Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese and Arabic.
The newest automatic replying helpline joins similar ones from not-for-profit or government organizations. These include the Singapore Government, Israel Ministry of Health, the South Africa Department of Health, and KOMINFO Indonesia, according to the host messaging app.
Just to repeat here is the way to use WhatsApp coronavirus alerts from WHO:
— WhatsApp says that to contact the WHO Health Alert, users should save number +41 79 893 1892 in phone’s contacts. After that they should simply send Hi message to get the information.
— The other method is that users should visit: https://www.whatsapp.com/coronavirus from their phone and then click on the link provided in this line: Turn to trusted sources, like the World Health Organization or your national health ministry, for the latest information and guidelines. Clicking on the send button will open WhatsApp on your phone the chat will start.
Following the unveiling of the health alert, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said, Digital technology gives us an unprecedented opportunity for vital health information to go viral and spread faster than the pandemic, helping us save lives and protect the vulnerable. We are proud to have partners like Facebook and WhatsApp, that are supporting us in reaching billions of people with important health information.
WhatsApp has also announced a grant of $1 million to the International Fact-checking network. This will be, according to a statement, to report on rumours that may be circulating on various messaging services including WhatsApp or SMS.
So far, WhatsApp has not released anything specially for India, however, the newest statement says that it is working with many countries to introduce local services as well.