WHO, WhatsApp launch COVID-19 health alert service

WHO, WhatsApp launch COVID-19 health alert service

PanARMENIAN.Net - As worldwide cases of COVID-19 rise above 254,000 and one country after another increases restrictions on people's movement, here's what you need to know about the spread of the coronavirus, from officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, WEForum reports.

At a briefiing, the WHO announced the launch of a messaging service in conjunction with partners WhatsApp and Facebook. The service, available only in English for now, has the potential to reach 2 billion people and help get reliable information to those who need it.

The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp or by sending "hi" to the number 0041798931892. Once a conversation is activated, users can access a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

Studies released this week found that the young have just as much to fear from COVID-19 as the elderly, WHO officials said. People under 50 comprise a significant number of people requiring hospitalization, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Two out of 3 people admitted to intensive care units in Italy were younger than 50, said Michael Ryan, Chief Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. Looking just at the mortality rates facing older people does not fully address the risk the disease presents, he said. "Let's not just look at mortality rates", said Ryan. "Let’s look at the impact to society".

Dr Tedros warned young people to follow the recommendations from their local health authorities and limit physical gatherings. "You’re not invincible", he said. "This virus could put you in hospital for weeks or kill you. The choices you make could mean the difference between life and death for other people".

Spread the word about how to stay safe, he said, but don't spread the virus.

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