Phandeeyar’s Chatbot raises awareness of COVID-19 in Myanmar

With over 20 million users in the country, Myanmar netizens often turn to Facebook for all kinds of information – from celebrity gossip to policy announcements for the upcoming elections.

Facebook has also become a well-spring of information about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) – particularly since March 24, when the Ministry of Health and Sports confirmed the country’s first two cases.

But social media, including Facebook and instant messaging, can also be a source of doubt, rumours and misinformation. Can people catch the virus after a hot bath? Will a tuberculosis vaccination protect me from COVID-19? Will eating “gna pi” (fish paste) kill the virus?

Amidst an impending health crisis in Myanmar, these are just some of the questions circulating on social media. Without being addressed with facts and data, such questions can easily give rise uncertainty and fear.

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