As dangerous as the coronavirus is, it’s threat is only matched by the spread of misinformation and rumours regarding the virus, causing people to panic. Governments globally have been making efforts to provide masses with quality information, so that educated decisions can be made and the paranoia regarding the virus can be prevented.
The Indian government, in its latest attempt, has brought a chatbot on the country’s biggest, most popular messaging platform Whatsapp, which will be solely focused towards providing accurate information about coronavirus, its spread, precautions among other information.
The bot was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through a tweet on Saturday. The bot can be contacted by texting a specific number- +919013151515, or clicking a link that would get you into said inbox. The bot will help users make detailed queries regarding the virus, including symptoms and treatment facilities.
Sharing correct information, avoiding incorrect panic.
Here is an effort by WhatsApp and @mygovindia to ensure you receive accurate and verified information on Coronavirus.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 21, 2020
“Sharing correct information, avoiding incorrect panic. Here is an effort by WhatsApp and @mygovindia to ensure you receive accurate and verified information on Coronavirus. Please click on this link https://wa.me/919013151515?text=Hi … or send Hi on +919013151515,” the tweet read.
The bot was developed by Haptik technologies, a subsidiary of Reliance Jio, India’s biggest telecom provider. The news for the bot comes directly from the well trusted Ministry of Health of the country.
In related news, India has also directed social media companies to check the spread of misinformation that is creating alerting levels of panic in the general populace. While some measures have been taken by the likes of Twitter and Facebook, there are more specific measures that the government wants. The Indian government has written to top social media companies including Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, ShareChat and Twitter, to control the spread of misinformation on Covid-19.
India has been able to hold the spread of the virus in the country, albeit a little precariously, since some experts suspect that it could be because of low testing in the country. The Prime Minister has urged nationals to stay indoors on Sunday and follow a self induced quarantine called ‘Janta ka Curfew’ to spread a message about the importance of self isolation in this time. People all over the country have been advised to stay indoors from 7AM to 9PM on 22nd March.