Dubai Health Authority Covid 19 WhatsApp
Since the launch of the DHA COVID-19 hotline service in April, users have accurate, official health information and advice about the coronavirus. Image Credit: iStock

Dubai: Approximatley 54,881 Dubai residents used the Dubai Health Authority (DHA)’s dedicated COVID-19 chat hotline to seek help from April to September. The DHA revealed these figures on Wednesday in conjunction with Facebook.

The automated chatbot application is a free 24/7 service, which was developed to raise awareness among the public and provide them with accurate information about COVID-19 and some other DHA services. The service was also introduced in line with DHA’s efforts to provide community members with an option to have a 24/7 communication channel available in multiple languages.

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Most questions related to COVID-19 test

Since the launch of the DHA COVID-19 hotline service in April, users have accurate, official health information and advice about the coronavirus, with the most asked questions on the WhatsApp service being “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 the third one being “I suspect that there is a sick person with Coronavirus, what do I do?”

Hotline helps debunk fake news

Fatma Al Khaja, Director of the Customer Happiness Department at DHA, said that the DHA hotline service has been very helpful in assisting people by debunking rumours about the virus and equipping the public with the necessary knowledge to take preventive and precautionary measures to protect themselves from COVID-19. “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 Al Khaja.

Six million people medically empowered through hotline

As part of an ongoing partnership, Facebook has also provided DHA with ad credits to drive people to government websites, to receive more information and stats about the pandemic in Dubai. Between April and September 2020, the DHA ads on social platforms Instagram and Facebook have since reached over six million unique users and have been viewed more than 36 million times.

“Facebook is supporting the global public health community’s work to keep people safe and informed during the Coronavirus public health crisis,” said Ramez Shehadi, Managing Director for Facebook MENA. “By partnering with DHA on the WhatsApp service, we are empowering people to access accurate information at the touch of a button, supporting those who are in need of services and making it easier for people to get tested.”

AI augmented hotline

Facebook also has the Coronavirus Information Centre on top of the News Feed. This is to provide a central place for people to get the latest news on the pandemic. The Coronavirus Information Centre is directed to over two billion people worldwide, with information from health expert resources, such as health authorities and educational pop-ups to learn more about the virus. Since the release of the feature, over 350 million people have clicked through to learn more via social media platforms Instagram and Facebook.

The DHA WhatsApp hotline utilises AI (artificial intelligence) to strengthen communication with the public and give them fast and easy access to accurate and trusted information from official sources. To access the 24/7 service, users can add 800 342 to their phone contacts and send “Hi” on WhatsApp.