The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has brought everyday life as we know it to a halt, with millions of people affected either directly or indirectly. As a result, it is natural that you would want to stay updated with the latest information on the national and global impact of the pandemic. With WhatsApp being one of the most widely used communication services, it is also likely that you would be receiving many different updates related to the pandemic from your peers. However, given how sensitive the issue is, ensuring that the information you receive—and share—is authentic and generated from genuine sources is essential. In fact, the Indian government has also directed social media companies to adopt official ways to share information, so that you do not get misled in such difficult times. Here, we list two trusted sources for information on the pandemic from, so you can do your bit in preventing the spread of fake news and misinformation on the internet.

MyGov

The first of the two hotlines was launched by the digital initiatives portal of the Indian government, dubbed MyGov. It was introduced in association with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, WhatsApp and MyGov itself. An automated information service, you can reach them directly by sending a simple text message to the number, +91-9013151515.

Government of India's official helpline on WhatsApp for COVID-19 related queries

By messaging this number, users can either ask their own queries, or choose from the list on FAQs, which includes information on the total count of affected, cured and deceased individuals due to the pandemic in India. It is also a great way to receive authentic updates from verified government sources in terms of best healthcare practices, key symptoms to look out for, and how to access healthcare services in and around your area. At the same time, the FAQ section can also help you dissolve any misinformation or myths that you may already have heard, therefore resolving any such confusion.

WHO

The second helpline has been introduced as an automated news and updates service on WhatsApp by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is particularly helpful and important if you have friends and families staying abroad. To access this service on WhatsApp, simply drop a message to +41-798931892.

World Health Organisation's official helpline on WhatsApp for COVID-19 related queries

Doing so brings up a full menu, from which you can learn about the latest numbers linked to the pandemic, along with steps and methods to keep yourself safe, or clarify any myths or unverified ‘cures’ you may have heard about. You can also access updated travel advice, and the most important news coverage from global publications. It also has a section for you to ask your question, and another window through which you can choose to donate to the global cause.

GOV.UK

If you have friends and family living in the UK, and are concerned about their situation, the British Government has also introduced a WhatsApp helpline called ‘GOV.UK’, which can be accessed by messaging on +44-7860064422.

Government of UK's official helpline on WhatsApp for COVID-19 related queries

Like MyGov and WHO’s services, GOV.UK is tailored to the British audience, its prevailing healthcare conditions and advisories for its citizens.

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