WHO brings coronavirus facts to WhatsApp

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 23 Mar 2020

As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread at alarming levels across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a messaging service on WhatsApp.

Dubbed WHO Health Alert, the new messaging service has been launched in partnership with WhatsApp and Facebook.

It can be accessed via mobile or WhatsApp Web, making it easy for the WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.

In February, WhatsApp revealed it has over two billion users, meaning the new messaging service has the potential to reach more than two billion people.

In a statement, the WHO says: “From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, this messaging service will provide the latest news and information on coronavirus, including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others. It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real-time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.”

According to the international public health agency, WHO Health Alert was developed in collaboration with Praekelt.Org, using Turn machine learning technology.

Users can simply type “hi” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

Locally, the Department of Health has zero-rated the Web site, which provides the public with accurate information about the deadly coronavirus.

South Africa also has a WhatsApp support platform, which was launched by the health department over a week ago.