UK's WhatsApp coronavirus chatbot now gives health advice and helps you apply for benefits – how to sign up
WHATSAPP'S official coronavirus chatbot has been upgrading, adding new health advice and guidance of claiming benefits.
The chatbot is free for anyone to use, and was developed in partnership with the UK Government.
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It launched last month as a way for Brits to access quick updates about coronavirus.
And now it's been expanded to add even more information and advice.
All of the information is UK Government-verified, in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories.
To use the service, simply add 07860 064422 into your phone contacts.
Then just message the word "hi" in a WhatsApp message to launch the chatbot.
New features include:
- Advice for people at high risk of catching coronavirus
- Detailed explanations on social distancing
- An explanation on "shielding"
- Advice for Brits who are pregnant of breastfeeding
- Guidance on checking if you're eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or Universal Credit
- How to apply for financial aid if you're self employed
- How you or your business can support the battle against coronavirus
- Links to tips on mental health and wellbeing during lockdown
"People all over the world are using WhatsApp more than ever to connect with and support their friends, family and communities during this crisis," said WhatsApp's Matt Idema.
"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."
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Anyone can talk to the chatbot for free, and get official advice direct from the government.
It would explain coronavirus prevention and symptoms, and give updates on the latest number of cases in the UK.
You'll also get advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth-busting too.
And the service will let the Government send alerts to all opted-in users, if it needs to.
"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," said Professor Yvonne Doyle, of Public Health England.
WhatsApp recently donated $1million to fight fake news around the coronavirus crisis.
The Facebook-owned chat app is handing the cash to the Poynter Insitute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).
The IFCN supports more than 100 local organisations in at least 45 countries.
They act as a resource for debunking fake news – and clarifying when viral stories are genuinely true, an outright lie, or somewhere in between.
Facebook's chat app has also set up the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub, which you can find here.
It's intended to provide simple guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, businesses and other organisations that use WhatsApp to communicate.
It also offers general tips and resources for users to help reduce the spread of rumours.
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In other news, beware this misleading WhatsApp hoax.
WhatsApp has quietly created a secret 'self-deleting message' feature.
And read our guide on how to send GIFs on WhatsApp.
What other advice or help would you like the WhatsApp chatbot to provide? Let us know in the comments!
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