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UK Government announces the expansion of the GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp

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The UK Government recently launched the new GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp.

Since its launch the ‘chatbot’ service has already shared over one million messages with citizens, providing them with official, trustworthy and timely information about coronavirus, with the goal of combating the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Today, in order to continue to share the most up-to-date advice about this developing situation, the service has expanded to add additional coronavirus information across a number of topics, with a particular focus on mythbusting and misinformation.

Users of the Coronavirus Information Service are able to receive easily accessible and UK Government verified information, to prevent the spreading of myths and misinformation. The tool will also continue to provide new content to address the evolving search queries and provide the most up to date information on coronavirus.

New content now available on the service includes:

  • Advice for people at high risk of contracting the virus
  • A deep dive into social distancing
  • An explanation of shielding
  • Advice for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • How to check whether you’re eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Universal Credit
  • How to apply for financial help if you are self employed
  • How you or your business can support the fight against Coronavirus
  • Link to tips on mental wellbeing whilst staying at home

Matt Idema, Chief Operating Officer, WhatsApp, comments: “People all over the world are using WhatsApp more than ever to connect with and support their friends, family and communities during this crisis. Now, thanks to the UK Government’s Coronavirus Information Service, the British public can also get official, timely and trustworthy advice about Coronavirus on WhatsApp. We will continue to support the UK Government to develop the service with updated information and official guidance as the situation develops.”

The Coronavirus Information Service was launched with the aim of reducing the burden on NHS services by providing millions of people across the UK with official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about the virus.

The service also aims to combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK by providing users with official, trusted information, and also by highlighting incorrect rumours in the ’mythbusting’ section of the service.

Anyone can access the free to use service by simply adding 07860 064422 to their phone contacts, and then sending 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.

The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Line has been built on the WhatsApp Business API, using Infobip’s global communication platform to enable the sharing of timely, vital information about COVID-19. The chatbot provides users with 24/7 instant access to all information about the virus.

Media agency Wavemaker is supporting this service through UX and conversational design, strategic direction, and project management.  Wavemaker is a world leading media, content and technology agency.

Digital agency Flipside are responsible for user testing, API build and backend architecture consultancy. Flipside are a digital agency offering digital consultancy, design and production services.

The partnership with the UK government is part of WhatsApp’s drive to support NGOs and health ministries around the world as they contend with COVID-19. To date, 22 WhatsApp Coronavirus chat bots have launched, with many more expected in the coming days and weeks.

The World Health Organization also launched its WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp late last month, and it was used by over 10 million people worldwide in the first three days.

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