The UK Government has launched a GOV.UK coronavirus information service on WhatsApp.
An announcement from the Cabinet Office, Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England said they are using the messaging platform to provide trustworthy and timely information and advice about the virus to all opted-in users.
It works as an automated chatbot providing answers to the most commonly asked questions, and provides information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, and the latest number of cases in the UK.
Users can sign up by adding 07860 064422 to their phone contacts and messaging the work ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message. 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.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director of 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.”
The move comes two weeks after NHS England took steps to overcome fake news about coronavirus, working with major digital service providers – notably Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – to emphasise the importance of official sources of information.
Earlier this week it followed up with the launch of a text message service based on the GOV.UK Notify platform for people who are most threatened.
Image from WhatsApp website, public domain