The citizens of Delhi have their own hotline on WhatsApp for the latest information on COVID-19. The new move was taken by the NCT Government’s Health and Family Care Department in Delhi to provide credible updates related to the ongoing pandemic. The Delhi government’s Corona Helpline, Development, is available as a chatbot service – much like we saw from the central government last month. It can be used to get details on the main signs and symptoms of COVID-19 on WhatsApp. In addition, users can access helpline numbers and government-authorized facilities to investigate and test the fatal disease.
Delhiites can access the chatbot service simply by storing the number +91 88000 07722 in your phone contacts and then sending a message with the word “Hello” to WhatsApp. The hotline initially provides details in English, although we expect at least Hindi support in the coming days.
One of the main functions of offering a native hotline via WhatsApp is to eliminate the spread of fake news and misinformation about COVID-19. However, you can also access the Chatbot service to get details on the available government-approved test facilities for the disease, which are believed to spread via the novel coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2). The bot also provides access to information about available nightly accommodations in the capital and how citizens can donate to the Chief Minister’s Aid Fund. There are options that allow users to request electronic curfews to move around during the curfew.
You can access the available list of options provided by the hotline by selecting the appropriate numbers in the initial message. Alternatively, the chatbot also offers information on receiving the emojis, which are provided in addition to the options listed.
“We are doing everything we can to protect our citizens in these challenging times, and we urge everyone to stay inside and ensure that they only rely on verified channels of information,” Arvind Kejriwal, Prime Minister of Delhi, said in a prepared statement.
The chatbot was developed using the cloud communication platform Infobip and is based on the WhatsApp Business API.
“We are currently focusing on ensuring that every citizen has access to credible and accurate health information,” said Abhijit Bose, Head of India at WhatsApp, and announced the new offer for citizens in Delhi. “We appreciate the opportunity to support the Delhi government and we urge people to do their part by relying on authentic and official sources of information.”
Last month, the central government launched its MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot on WhatsApp with a similar list of features. It reached more than 1.7 million users nationwide within 10 days of its launch, and recently received support for Hindi – in addition to the default language of English.
Several states in the country have set up similar chatbot services to provide trustworthy information to citizens. Users can now reach the health ministries of Maharashtra (+91 20 2612 739), Gujarat (+91 74330 00104) and Kerala (+91 90722 20183) via WhatsApp. More states are scheduled to launch in the coming days, the Facebook company wrote its press release.
In addition to government support for chatbot services, WhatsApp recently launched its Coronavirus Information Hub and announced a $ 1 million donation to curb misinformation related to COVID-19. The instant messaging app has also added a special bot for the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide various warnings and mythbusters about the outbreak.
In the recent past, the Indian government has also provided its coronavirus hotline via a telegram channel and a Facebook bot. All of this aims to limit the spread of fake news through social media.
How do we stay healthy during this coronavirus ban? We discussed this in Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just click the play button below.