Ever since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in South Africa, the National Department of Health (NDoH) was been taking measures to keep the local population up to date about the virus’ spread, as well as offering tools to stay in the loop.

One of the popular tools has been the COVID-19 Connect WhatsApp hotline, which quickly racked up 1.5 million users. Those numbers have increased several-fold in the past few days, especially with South Africa in the midst of a national lockdown.

To date the hotline is said to have an estimated 3.2 million users and has delivered up to 50 million messages.

In order to make the service more user friendly and accessible to a larger portion of the population, the NDoH has confirmed that the COVID-19 Connect WhatsApp hotline supports five local languages.

Initially rolling out in English, now it caters to four more languages – SeSotho, IsiZulu, Afrikaans and IsiXhosa.

Anyone in South Africa can join the COVID-19 Connect platform by typing the word ‘Hi’ to (+27) 600 123 456 on WhatsApp.

“They will then be able to select the language of their choice before moving to the main menu which delivers responses to the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and the coronavirus. This includes how to protect themselves and others through hygiene, the importance of self-isolation and physical distancing, symptoms, myths about the virus and more,” developers of the hotline have explained.

“Drawn from the NDoH and the World Health Organization (WHO), this vital information is accurate and up-to-date, and includes the latest news to enable people to keep in touch with developments during South Africa’s lockdown,” they concluded.


[Image – Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash]