Google & WhatsAPP launches a coronavirus info hub to keep you up to date

WhatsApp has launched a plan around helping governments, health organisations and community workers communicate truthful, helpful information to people during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The company has already been working with governments and NGOs in Singapore, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia to provide factual information to people at scale, but it plans to extend this, with a hub that will collate all materials for people to use.

The hub, in partnership with World Health Organization, Unicef, and UNDP, will be aimed at health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses, giving them provide simple and actionable guidance for communicating using WhatsApp during the crisis.

The company is also working with the WHO and UNICEF on messaging hotlines that people can use to access reliable information from the hub.

Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said: “Partnerships with private sector companies like WhatsApp will help get this vital, real-time information from the World Health Organization and local health officials to billions of users around the globe.”

The company is also giving $1m to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which it says will be used to fund the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, a group which includes 100 local organizations in over 45 countries.

Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, said: “We know that our users are reaching out on WhatsApp more than ever at this time of crisis, whether it’s to friends and loved ones, doctors to patients, or teachers to students. We wanted to provide a simple resource that can help connect people at this time.

“We are also pleased to be able to partner with the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp and to support their life-saving work to debunk rumors. We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world for them to provide updates right within WhatsApp.”

Head to google.com/covid19 to access a host of information about the COVID-19 disease, including symptoms, treatments, and how to avoid getting it in the first place. There are also links to other reliable resources on the web.

If you live in the US, you can look up local resources by state as well: Tell Google which region you live in to get information tailored to your specific area.

You can also use the site to check out the latest search trends for the coronavirus, and to see the number of cases reported worldwide on a global map. There are even links to resources to help you work from home.

At the same time, Google is pushing out more information to go alongside coronavirus search results, so whenever you run a query related to the virus or the COVID-19 disease, you’ll see some of the same official resources too.

Google says the site will be tweaked for international visitors in the near future – though anyone is able to access the US version – and that more information and more resources will be added over time.

It’s an unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in and it’s not clear yet exactly how everything is going to play out – but if you need the facts about the new coronavirus and COVID-19, Google now has you covered.

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