WATCH: GCO launches Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp
While Qatar continues to implement measures to protect the health of its citizens and residents and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the country is also not leaving any stone unturned to raise awareness about the disease.
Relevant authorities have repeatedly stressed the need for the public to follow information released by official government channels and not to pay heed to any false information.
In early March, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) urged the people of Qatar to refrain from believing in rumors or anonymous stories and also highlighted that "involvement in spreading or circulating rumors is a serious offense and may expose you to legal accountability."
To ensure that the public has easy access to authentic and reliable information, the Government Communications Office (GCO) today launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp.
According to a statement by GCO, this new service is free-to-use and serves as "a central source of accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)."
أطلق مكتب الاتصال الحكومي اليوم خدمة لتوفير المعلومات حول فيروس كورونا عبر تطبيق واتساب بست لغات. وتعد هذه الخدمة المجانية مصدراً رئيسياً لتوفير معلومات دقيقة وموثوقة حول الفيروس. https://t.co/Vs3z7Qu0r9— مكتب الاتصال الحكومي (@GCOQatar) April 6, 2020
يمكنكم تفعيل الخدمة من خلال الرابط التالي: https://t.co/2MgWrHRPS7 pic.twitter.com/oO3rCXIl43
The Coronavirus Information Service is an automated “chatbot” service that allows citizens and residents in Qatar to get answers to the most common questions about COVID-19 from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the GCO.
The service is available 24/7 and in six different languages including Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Nepali, and Malayalam.
The public can get information on various topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases, advice on staying at home, travel advice, among others.
If you'd like to use the service, all you have to do is save the number +974 60060601 as a contact on your phone, then open the chat window on WhatsApp for the saved number. You will see the below message, asking you to select the language you'd like to receive your information in.
You could also start the conversation via https://wa.me/97460060601?text=Hi
Deputy Director of GCO for Media Affairs, Sheikh Thamer bin Hamad Al-Thani, commented, "Maintaining the safety of citizens and residents in the State of Qatar is our top priority. To ensure that the public is kept informed during the crisis we have developed a user-friendly service to give people instant access to the most current information on the virus. This includes the latest statistics from the Ministry of Public Health and vital information about how people can protect themselves and others. Our aim is to raise public awareness in our community."
WhatsApp’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Idema, said, "At difficult times like these, people use WhatsApp more than ever to connect with and support their friends, family, and communities. We are pleased to be able to provide the State of Qatar with the communications tools to help them respond to citizens’ questions about the virus with reliable, timely health advice, in order to keep people safe."
According to the GCO statement, the service has been built on the WhatsApp Business API over Infobip’s global communication platform to provide timely and critical information to the population about the virus.
For more advanced queries, the chatbot can also direct users to online resources.
Meanwhile, health authorities in the country continue to implement the highest level of monitoring, detection, and management procedures to deal with the virus, the public has been advised to follow certain measures to safeguard their health.
For any queries, or concerns related to COVID-19 in Qatar, the public can contact a 24/7 hotline set up by the Ministry. The hotline number is 16000 and is toll-free.
Here's everything you need to know about the virus, including ways to protect yourself.
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