Telegram group set up to answer coronavirus queries from public

The Karnataka government has decided to start an informal group on Telegram, an instant messaging platform, in a bid to answer queries from the public about the coronavirus.

“Do you have a question to ask the govt depts about Covid-19 and don’t know whom to ask or 104 is busy? Please join this informal Telegram group: We will try to get answers for you. Experts on ‘Covid19’ are also invited to join,” Secretary of the Karnataka Labour Department posted on social media.

As of Saturday morning 11.30 am, as many as 597 members had joined the group and were engaging with officials of the Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department for information about the coronavirus.

The queries on the group varied from seeking information about the process to self-report, the labs where coronavirus testing is taking place and about the steps taken by the government to trace contacts of those who have tested positive for the virus.

“Officials are trying to guide the discussion on the group and it is helpful to ensure people do not come to their own conclusions and assume things about the virus that are not true,” a member of the group said. A Telegram group can support up to 100,000 members.

So far in Karnataka, six people have tested positive for the virus. This includes five people from Bengaluru and the first recorded death linked to coronavirus in India – a 76-year-old man from Kalaburagi district.

On Friday, health officials in Karnataka released information about the places visited by the six people who have tested positive so far.

In Bengaluru, the COVID-19 positive patients visited a mall, a theatre, local shops and their offices.  “Public is requested to call 104 helpline and inform the department on their presence at the place and time mentioned. This will help us in better contact tracing and further transmission of novel coronavirus in the community,” the state government said in a statement to the media.

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