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Viber to launch COVID-19 chatbot for Philippines users

Viber is set to launch a chatbot to help its users in the Philippines stay updated on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Developed in partnership with the Department of Health, the bot can provide information on the COVID-19 situation in the country.

"The idea of a chatbot is to try and reduce the workload that sits on the DOH," said Anubhav Nayyar, Viber's senior director for Asia Pacific.

In a conference call with GMA News Online, Nayyar said usual questions on COVID-19 can be centered around a set of 10 to 15 questions.

"If we can build a system through the form of a chatbot where a lot of those queries can be automatically addressed, then it just helps everyone," he said.

The chatbot's language will be a mix of Tagalog and English.

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At the moment, DOH has a verified Viber community where users can directly receive news and other bulletins straight from health authorities.

Viber also has a chatbot in partnership with the World Health Organization for global updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If you really want to know and understand and get access to truthful, authentic, trustworthy information, this is the place," Nayyar said.

Viber has recorded a 120 percent increase in the number of messages sent by Filipino users amid the enhanced community quarantine. It has also observed an 85 percent increase in the number of calls received by the average user.

To address the rising communication needs of the public, Viber has increased the maximum number of participants in audio calls from five to 20 users.

The messaging app is looking to introduce a similar scale up in video calls without sacrificing the reliability of their service.

Viber has recorded a 55 percent increase in the number of new users registering daily and a 40 percent increase in its daily active users. --MGP, GMA News