The service aims to tackle fake news by providing verified information on topics such as Covid-19 prevention and symptoms and travel advice
A new government coronavirus information service has been launched on the messaging service WhatsApp.
The automated ‘chatbot’ service which will allow the public to get answers to the most common questions about the Covid-19 virus.
The free service will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the UK, advice on staying at home and travel advice.
Earlier this week the government sent a text message to all UK numbers informing them of the new rules ordering them to stay at home as well as texting vulnerable people as part of their ‘shielding’ measures.
However internet messaging service WhatsApp has million of users in the UK.
And the move, which has been done in collaboration with the Facebook-owned American app giant, will “help combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives” officials say.
It is also hoped it will also help ease the burden on the NHS once it goes live.
Prof Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “This service will help us ensure the public has a trusted source for the right information about coronavirus, updated with the latest public health guidance and providing assurance that they are not misled by any of the false information circulating.
Matt Idema, Chief Operating Officer at WhatsApp, said: “At difficult times like these, people are using WhatsApp more than ever to connect with and support their friends, family and communities.
“We are pleased to be able to provide the UK Government with the communications tools to help them answer the public’s questions about the virus with reliable, timely health advice, in order to keep people safe.”
To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 to your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.
A set of menu options is then presented which the user can choose from and then be sent relevant guidance from GOV.UK pages as well as links to GOV.UK for further information.