UK Government expands its coronavirus information service on WhatsApp

David Murphy

The UK Government has expanded its GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, adding additional coronavirus information across a number of topics, with a particular focus on mythbusting and misinformation.

Since its launch the ‘chatbot’ service has already shared over 1m messages with citizens, providing them with official, trustworthy and timely information about coronavirus, with the goal of combating the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Users of the Coronavirus Information Service are able to receive easily-accessible and UK Government-verified information, to prevent the spreading of myths and misinformation. The tool will also continue to provide new content to address the evolving search queries and provide the most up to date information on coronavirus.

New content now available on the service includes advice for people at high risk of contracting the virus; a deep dive into social distancing; an explanation of shielding; advice for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding; information on how to check whether you’re eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Universal Credit; information on how to apply for financial help if you are self employed; and a link to tips on mental wellbeing whilst staying at home

“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 chief operating officer, 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.”

Anyone can access the free service by simply adding 07860 064422 to their phone contacts, and then sending the word ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started. A set of menu options is then presented which the user can choose from and then be sent relevant guidance from GOV.UK pages as well as links to GOV.UK for further information.

The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Line has been built on the WhatsApp Business API, using Infobip’s global communications platform. Media agency Wavemaker is supporting the service through UX and conversational design, strategic direction, and project management. Wavemaker is a world leading media, content and technology agency. Digital agency Flipside is responsible for user testing, API build and backend architecture consultancy.