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Indonesian government’s COVID-19 chatbot goes live on WhatsApp

The chatbot will provide basic information related to COVID-19, covering symptoms, referral hospitals, and prevention measures.

Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate announces COVID-19 chatbot release on WhatsApp. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Communication and Information.

With no apparent end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government has released a chatbot feature on WhatsApp to provide citizens with basic information about the disease.

In a public statement, communication and information technology minister Johnny G. Plate said his ministry has been collaborating with WhatsApp and Telkom Group to build the tool and release it with the account name COVID19.GO.ID, matching the URL of the government’s information portal about COVID-19.

The chatbot can be accessed here or by texting messages to the number +62-811-3339-9000. The contents shared through the channel are provided by the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) and the Ministry of Health, and will be updated in accordance with global developments.

Screenshot showing responses from the Indonesian government’s COVID-19 chatbot on WhatsApp.

The chatbot provides eight information categories for users to peruse. Plate said that WhatsApp will roll out a message blast service for public announcements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, although users can opt out via the messaging platform.

A similar chatbot service is available in Singapore.

The Ministry of Health has already set up a COVID-19 call center, which can be accessed for free by dialing 119, or 112 for areas under provincial governance. Public can also access the official data center here. From March 23 onward, visits to the site will not drain any mobile internet credit.

As of March 19, Indonesia has identified 309 cases of infection, with 25 deaths and 15 recovered patients.