With Coronavirus (COVID-19) fast spreading across the world, the World Health Organization has launched a WhatsApp messaging service to help counter misinformation and myths associated with the virus.
WHO, a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health, unveiled the service on March 20 after a partnership with WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook.
As of Saturday, March 21, according to WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, six million people had subscribed to the WhatsApp Alert service.
The WHO WhatsApp Alert service on COVID-19 las already reached 6 million users since launching yesterday!
Everyone is encouraged to join – here's the link: https://t.co/mUvOWlGfqC. When you open it, type the word, 'hi'!
Thank you Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg!
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 21, 2020
According to WHO, the easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.
“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, ” said WHO.
“It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real-time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.”
The service can be accessed through this link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp.
A user simply types “hi” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.
This includes the latest statistics, how to protect yourself, MythBusters and travel advice.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness clinically resembling viral pneumonia and manifesting as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Globally, as of Sunday, March 22, 308,564 coronavirus cases had been recorded while the death toll stands at 13,069. Kenya has seven confirmed cases with several suspected cases awaiting test results.
At least 95,829 people are reported to have recovered from the virus that broke out in the Wuhan city of China in December last year.