Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Thursday launched a dedicated helpline number on WhatsApp to ensure that citizens have easy access to credible information around the COVID-19 crisis.
"The Health and Family Welfare Department of Government of NCT of Delhi has launched a dedicated WhatsApp helpline number - +91 88000 07722. This service is free-to-use and will act as a central source for accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information on the ongoing pandemic," WhatsApp said in a statement.
To use the helpline, users need to save the number in their phone contacts and then text ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started. This service has been built on the WhatsApp Business API, using Infobip India and will be available in English.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Delhi stands at 219 including four deaths. Overall, there are over 1,900 cases of the deadly pandemic that has caused more than 50 deaths across India.
The WhatsApp helpline is an automated ‘chatbot’ service that will allow citizens to get verified answers to questions about coronavirus from the government health department within 24 hours, the statement said.
The service will provide information on topics such as coronavirus prevention and symptoms along with tips on containment, other service helpline numbers, applying for e-passes and general information on measures that the government is taking to tackle this crisis, it added.
"The Delhi government is happy to partner with WhatsApp to establish a dedicated Coronavirus helpline for its residents to ensure that all your queries related to Coronavirus are answered with credible and accurate information. We are doing everything we can to keep our citizens safe in these challenging times and urge everyone to stay indoors and ensure they rely only on verified channels of information," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
WhatsApp India Head Abhijit Bose said the company's focus, at this time, is to make sure every citizen can access credible and accurate health-related information.
"We value the opportunity to support the Government of Delhi and urge people to do their part by relying on authentic and official sources of information," he added.
In addition to the MyGov central helpline, similar services have been introduced in several states of India to empower users to find credible information both in English and their specific regional language.
Users can reach health ministries of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala on WhatsApp with more states to launch in the coming days, the statement said. Users can also reach out to the fact-checking community by visiting WhatsApp's recently-launched Coronavirus Information Hub, it added.