Can beer cure it? Goa asks Whatsapp coronavirus chatbot

Can beer cure coronavirus? Goa users ask Whatsapp COVID-19 chatbot

(Image by Ernesto Rodriguez from Pixabay)

Can coronavirus be cured by drinking beer? Can one trust the media vis a vis COVID-19 details or can pets spread the dreaded viral disease?

These are just some of the common coronavirus-related questions asked by anxious WhatsApp users in Goa, while chatting with Cobot-19, a chatbot launched by the state Health Ministry on Wednesday to create awareness about precautionary measures to be taken in view of the pandemic.

Developed jointly by health care company Portea Medical and a customer support and engagement automation platform Verloop, Cobot-19, helps users to access to comprehensive details about COVID-19, how they can avoid it, what preventive measures are to be taken, and a list of helpline numbers they can refer to.

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“The Cobot-19 is our attempt at dispelling myths and ensuring that people stay aware of the latest developments in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic and know who to approach. We are the only country after Singapore to have launched such a chatbot at this scale and if successful, we aim to replicate it at the national level as well,” Managing Director Portea Medical Meena Ghosh told Deccan Herald.

Among the many questions which users from Goa, a tourism destination known for affordable alcohol pricing, posed to the chatbot ever since it was launched on Wednesday, included tentative queries about whether drinking beer could help keep COVID-19 at bay.

“I am hearing that beer helps with Corona, is it true?” the question said, to which Cobot-19 replied: “Alcohol does not protect you from getting COVID-19..."

Currently, the chatbot is available only in English and in Konkani, Verloop Founder Gaurav Singh said.

Another query was related to the trustworthiness of the media while sharing information on the issue. To a question: “Can I trust on media for the data being shared?” the chatbot replied: “I am sorry but I do not have answer for this question yet. Please contact 104 (helpline) for further information”.

Other queries were related to whether coronavirus could spread through pets, the origin of the virus, care of senior citizens etc.

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