The Government of India has launched an official chatbot on popular instant messaging app WhatsApp for any queries that you may have about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. The WhatsApp Chatbot is called MyGov Corona Helpdesk and is available to all WhatsApp users. You just need to save the number 9013151515 in the contacts list on your phone and then send a message to this bot on WhatsApp to get a response for your query. The responses that this bot will generate will be automated, the idea being to clarify and provide correct information about most queries that people may have about this fast spreading illness.
This is a good move at a time when misinformation and fake news are rampant on WhatsApp, including about possible treatments for the Coronavirus and even preventive measures that could save you from the Coronavirus infection, all of which are absolutely incorrect. The National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) said in a tweet, “The Government has created WhatsApp Chatbot on Corona. It is called MyGov Corona Helpdesk. Just save on WhatsApp 9013151515 and you will get automated response on queries related to Corona.”
Apart from this WhatsApp Chatbot, the government also has set up a Coronavirus national helpline number (+91-11-23978046 and 1075 for toll free) as well as an official email id (firstname.lastname@example.org) where citizens can get in touch regarding any query or clarification about the Coronavirus.
As of last night, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of the Government of India has reported 171 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus infection in India. In his address to the nation yesterday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to not panic, avoid panic buying, remain indoors as much as possible and work from home. He also called for a Junta Curfew on Sunday, March 22, and requested citizens to not leave their homes between 7am and 9pm. Globally, the Coronavirus confirmed infections have crossed the 244517 mark.
In February, WhatsApp had announced it had clocked 2 billion active users worldwide. While the company did not give out specific India numbers at the time, WhatsApp already had 400 million users in India as of July last year. Safe to assume, that number would have only increased tremendously since.