Coronavirus: Dubai COVID-19 WhatsApp helpline receives over 54,000 requests

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A WhatsApp helpline set up to provide Dubai residents with information about the coronavirus received over 54,000 requests between April and September, authorities announced on Wednesday.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched the automated chatbot application on WhatsApp in April to help keep the public informed about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Since then, it has received 54,881 unique requests, announced the DHA and their Facebook partners via the official Emirates News Agency (WAM).

The Dubai Health Authority application on WhatsApp. (Screengrab)
The Dubai Health Authority application on WhatsApp. (Screengrab)

The most common queries were “Am I eligible for a coronavirus test and what is the procedure to get the test?", followed by "Can I get a coronavirus medical certificate?" and "I suspect that there is a sick person with Coronavirus, what do I do?"

“We wanted a system that would respond to patients’ queries timeously and to give people a credible channel to receive accurate information. The system provides users with an opportunity to learn more about the virus, get UAE statistics and even find out if they are eligible for a coronavirus test,” said Fatma Al Khaja, Director of the Customer Happiness Department at DHA.

The hotline is a 24/7 service that uses artificial intelligence to provide automatic answers. It is activated by messaging the number 800 342 “Hi” on WhatsApp.

The DHA has partnered with Facebook to raise awareness about the coronavirus, with the social media platform providing DHA ad credits on its site. According to WAM, DHA ads on Facebook and Instagram reached over six million unique users between April and September.

The UAE has experienced a rise in coronavirus cases in September, reporting a high of 1,100 cases on Wednesday. Authorities have urged the public to abide by face mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines.

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