After weeks of criticism, the federal government has finally released an official app and a WhatsApp information bot to help Australians easily and quickly find official information on the global coronavirus outbreak we're facing. While the app is readily available on both the Apple and Google app store, the WhatsApp service is a bit harder to find. Here's how you get it.
The government released a WhatsApp service for Australians to access in order to get the most up-to-date information and advice.
Are you on WhatsApp?
— Australian Government (@ausgov) March 29, 2020
The service allows you to receive a range of information using an automated bot chat. Some of that includes the latest figures, a symptom checker, advice on social distancing and quarantine as well as some of the relevant rules for your home state or territory.
In addition, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an app is now available for both Android and iOS devices, which would allow users to access a central point of information for the virus' outbreak in the country.
"[The app] enables us to talk to Australians in terms of basic health advice, updates on the measures that are being put in place by state and federal governments," Morrison said in a press conference on Sunday.
"That will assist you to get accurate and timely information about what is being done by governments around the country to support you, as you and your family and your household and your community work through the difficult months ahead because of the coronavirus."
How do I get the government's coronavirus service on WhatsApp?
Once you've done that, there a few ways to add it to your conversation list. First, you can follow the official link, which will automatically initiate the bot.
You can also manually add the government's WhatsApp number, +61 400 253 787, and send it a message and it will provide you with the prompts. From there, you'll be able to select what information you'd like to know about and the official links to visit if you need anything else.
While it's a few weeks too late, it's a good source to have on a platform that's been used by some users to spread misinformation and disinformation about the virus for months.
With the novel coronavirus outbreak occurring in China, the internet has been a great way to communicate awareness about the spread and how to minimise the risk of contracting it. But it's also revealed some of the darkest aspects of the web, including the spread of misinformation and outright false information. Here's how you can spot the difference.