Social media giant Facebook on Wednesday expanded its COVID-19 Announcement -- a tool for the health departments of states and union territories to share essential coronavirus related updates -- in India.
The tool was first launched in the US. In India, the social media platform partnered with 33 states and union territories to roll this out in their respective jurisdictions. It will give health departments the ability to push out timely, credible COVID-19 and vaccine information to people in their local communities or state jurisdictions. States will also be able to issue these alerts statewide or to specific cities within their state.
"This is part of our ongoing efforts to support the public health authorities' work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis," the company said in a statement. "When posts by state health department pages on Facebook are marked as Covid-19 Announcements, we amplify their reach so that people located in the community are more likely to see them.
"We will send notifications to people located in the affected area, and will also show that information on the Covid-19 Information Center. This will help distribute important and urgent updates related to Covid-19 or Covid-19 vaccination efforts to people in the community," Facebook said.
The tool can be used to communicate information on existing Covid resources, such as helplines; updates on hospital bed availability in districts, such as Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and oxygen supported beds; changes to existing Coronavirus disease-related rules and regulation that can impact communities and day-to-day actions, such as lockdowns, night curfews and changes to treatment protocols.
It will also make people aware about vaccine eligibility and registration, the logistics of acquiring a vaccine and provide accurate information on Covid appropriate behaviour and preventive behavioural health measures to stop the spread of the infectious disease.