Coronavirus : WHO opens WhatsApp health service

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As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads, the World Health Organisation 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. This will also serve government decision-makers by providing the latest numbers and situation reports.

How the WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp works

Start by clicking WHO Health Alert, 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.

You 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 you have 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. 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.)

Since February, WhatsApp has reached out to dozens of governments to assist their efforts to provide accurate information to the general public. The WHO Health Alert is the latest official NGO or government helpline to become available on WhatsApp, joining the Singapore Government, The Israel Ministry of Health, the South Africa Department of Health, and KOMINFO Indonesia. We are actively working to launch local services with other countries as well.

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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 $1M 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.

Announcing the service, Facebook Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said in a post: “We’ve worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) on a way to get authoritative information about coronavirus sent directly to your WhatsApp. With WHO Health Alerts, you can receive their daily situation report, which has the latest numbers of cases by country around the world, as well as tips on how to protect yourself, and answers to frequently asked questions that you can easily send to friends and family. So many people wanted this service that even before we could announce it, people shared the link around WhatsApp and almost half a million people had already signed up.”

To sign up, just tap this link if you have WhatsApp installed:

http://bit.ly/who-covid-19-whatsapp