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Facebook rolls out COVID-19 announcement tool in India

Social media giant Facebook on Wednesday said it is expanding its ‘COVID-19 Announcement’ tool in India that will help health departments of states and union territories share essential COVID-19 related updates with their communities.

India is the second country after the US to launch this feature.

Facebook said it has partnered with 33 states and union territories to roll out this tool in their respective jurisdictions.

“The COVID-19 announcement feature will give health departments the ability to push out timely, credible COVID-19 and vaccine information to people in their local communities/ state jurisdictions. States will be able to issue these alerts statewide or to specific cities within their state,” it added.

The rollout of the COVID-19 announcement tool in India is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to support the public health authorities’ work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis, it said.

“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,” Facebook said.

This will help distribute important and urgent updates related to COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccination efforts to people in the community, it added.

Facebook said COVID-19 announcements can be used to communicate information on existing COVID-19 resources such as helplines; updates on hospital bed availability in districts such as Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and oxygen supported beds; and changes to existing COVID-19 rules and regulation that can impact communities and day-to-day actions like lockdowns, night curfews and changes to treatment protocols.

The tool can also be used to share information about vaccine eligibility and registration, and the logistics of acquiring a vaccine; providing accurate information on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour; and suggesting preventive behavioural health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, it added.

Previously, the social media giant had said it would roll out a vaccine finder tool on its mobile app in India to help people identify places nearby to get inoculated. The company had also announced a $10 million grant for emergency response efforts for COVID-19 situation in the country.

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