With rapid spread of COVID-19 pandemic and scores of people across the globe seeking trusted health information and advice about the coronavirus, the World Health Organization has launched a Health Alert on WhatsApp.
The new service, which is free to use, has been designed to answer questions from the public about coronavirus, and to give prompt, reliable and official information 24 hours a day, worldwide, the WHO said adding that this will also serve government decision-makers by providing the latest numbers and situation reports.
The service is initially launching in English but will be available in all six United Nations languages within the coming weeks (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.)
To contact the WHO Health Alert, one needs to save the number +41 79 893 1892 in his/her phone contacts and then simply text the word ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.
The service responds to a series of prompts and will be updated daily with the latest information.
One can also visit the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub at whatsapp.com/coronavirus, and click on the WHO link on the homepage to open up a chat with the WHO Health Alert if one has WhatsApp installed.
The WHO Health Alert will provide official information on topics such as how to protect yourself from infection, travel advice, and debunking coronavirus myths.
“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,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said.
“Partners like Facebook and WhatsApp, that are supporting us in reaching billions of people with important health information,” he said.
Earlier this week WhatsApp, in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and UNDP, launched the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub, to provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate. The site also offers general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumors and connect with accurate health information.
WhatsApp also announced a $1 million grant to the International Fact Checking Network to support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, to report on rumors that may be circulating on various messaging services including WhatsApp or SMS.