“This is, above all, a human crisis that calls for solidarity ... More than ever before, we need solidarity, hope and the political will to see this crisis through together.” - UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

2 April 2020 — From teaming up with some of the world’s best-known football stars and popular local musicians, to launching a direct messaging campaign with Whatsapp, the United Nations is joining forces with new partners to share vital information about coronavirus.

More than 50 Costa Rican musicians, including members of the local reggae band Talawa and renowned reggae singer Julio Nájera, are joining the United Nations to bring hope and to call for action against the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative targets young people, which has been a difficult member of the audience to engage with. Many do not watch the presidency's press conferences, read the newspaper or log on to Facebook, and local authorities are concerned about their unwillingness to follow hygiene and safety measures put in place to contain infections. Many of these young people mistakenly believe that “COVID-19 does not affect them.”

A man leans on an minivan whilst strumming a guitar.

This is why Julio repeats with insistence: “Buddies, these days, we have to stay home. Let's wash our hands often, and no kisses and hugs.”

Singer Alonso of Talawa adds: “At this time, distance is solidarity. Let's pay attention to all the recommendations from the Ministry of Health. Let's keep two metres away from each other and if we have to cough or sneeze, let's do it into our upper sleeves”.

In an effort to share critical guidance on COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched dedicated messaging services in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, partnering with WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from coronavirus. This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and allows WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it, the UN health agency says.

A man plays a guitar on stage, whilst the other is singing.

From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, the messaging service provides the latest news and information on coronavirus including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others. It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real-time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations. WhatsApp Health Alert attracted 10 million users in the first four days, WHO says.

WHO has also partnered with Rakuten Viber to launch a new interactive chatbot which aims to get accurate information about COVID-19 to people in multiple languages. This partnership gives WHO the potential to reach over 1 billion people in their local language directly through their mobile phones.

“WHO’s aim is to reach as many people as possible with reliable health information through innovative digital technology,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Information is powerful and can help save lives during this pandemic.”

Once subscribed to the WHO/Rakuten Viber chatbot, users will receive notifications with the latest news and information directly from WHO. Users can also learn how to protect themselves and test their knowledge on coronavirus through an interactive quiz that helps bust myths and address misinformation.

Kick Out COVID-19

WHO has also teamed up with FIFA, the international governing body of football to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) by launching a new awareness campaign led by world-renowned players, who are calling on all people around the world to follow five key steps to stop the spread of the disease.

The five key steps promoted by the “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” are: hand washing; coughing etiquette; not touching face; physical distance; and staying home if feeling unwell.

A mosaic of photos of talking heads juxtaposed against illustrations demonstrating safety measure against the Corona virus.

“You can't win a football game only by defending,” said Mr. Tedros. “You have to attack as well.”

He explained that asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time – but they are defensive measures. To win, he emphasized, “we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics – testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and tracing and quarantining every close contact.”

The United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP) issued an appeal to the creative community, inviting the world’s creatives to develop engaging content around key six areas based on WHO and UN priority actions; personal hygiene; physical distancing; know the symptoms; kindness contagion; myth busting; and do more, donate. Selected content will be shared on UN platforms.