Government launches WhatsApp chatbot for coronavirus advice

Written by Sam Trendall on 26 March 2020 in News
News

Service offers range of information options, including latest statistics and prevention tips

The government has launched a WhatsApp chatbot to provide the public with information and advice on the coronavirus.

Citizens can access the service by adding the number 07860 064 422 to their phone contacts and sending a WhatsApp text message reading ‘hi’.

The chatbot (pictured above) then replies with a list of topics about which citizens can obtain the latest advice and information. These are numbered from 1-9, and guidance can be accessed by sending a message composed of the corresponding number.

The nine options are, in order: what is coronavirus?; prevention; symptoms; stay at home; travel; latest numbers; mythbusters; share; and more information.


Related content


Some of these sections have sub-categories which can also be accessed via numerical messages. Users can return to the main menu at any point by replying with the word ‘menu’.

Users are told that all messages sent to the service “will not be read by a person [and] you cannot call this number”.

In addition to providing advice, the government said that the chatbot will allow it “to send messages to all opted-in users, if required”. 

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.”

WhatsApp chief operating officer Matt Idema added: “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.”

 

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Carry on campus – how ONS data science is supporting Brexit negotiations and coronavirus response
18 March 2020

Since its launch in 2017, the ONS Data Science Campus has delivered many innovative projects to support the government’s work in areas ranging from Brexit negotiations to the early stages of the...

How AI is helping Bradford NHS trust through winter pressures
4 March 2020

Technology is helping to create bed capacity and keep surgery on schedule at Bradford NHS trust. Gill Hitchcock reports on what this means for patients and staff in what is typically a busy...

Why have governments struggled to get it right on digital identity?
25 February 2020

With many government-developed services seeing poor uptake, the answer may lie in allowing citizens to ‘bring your own identity’, according to Arthur Mickoleit of Gartner