WhatsApp 'chatbot' service launched by UK Government to offer coronavirus information

A WhatsApp coronavirus 'chatbot' service has been launched by the Government to provide Britons with information to commonly asked questions about the disease.

The new free-to-use service is aimed at providing “official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus” and help “reduce the burden on NHS services”.

The gov.uk Coronavirus Information Service can be accessed by saving the number 07860 064422 to your contacts, and then sending it a message saying 'hi'.

A set of menu options is then presented which the user can choose from and they will be sent relevant guidance from gov.uk pages as well as links to gov.uk for further information.

Prof Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director, Public Health England, said: “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.”

Matt Idema, Chief Operating Officer, WhatsApp, said: “At difficult times like these, people are using WhatsApp more than ever to connect with and support their friends, family and communities.

The Government has urged people to 'stay at home'. Credit: PA

"We are pleased to be able to provide the UK Government with the communications tools to help them answer the public’s questions about the virus with reliable, timely health advice, in order to keep people safe."

WhatsApp has come under fire for failing to deal with fake news stories shared on the platform.

There has also been voice notes which have showed a brighter side of how people are coping with the coronavirus crisis, including how a giant lasagne is being cooked at Wembley Stadium.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know