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South Africa GovChat Launches: COVID-19 Prescreening

South Africa GovChat Launches: COVID-19 Prescreening

The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Parks Tau, said, “We will walk South Africans through this user-friendly interface on all media platforms and open up a whole new world of the COVID-19 combat infrastructure.”

GovChat, the official South African citizen government engagement platform, in partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) today announces and introduces Unathi, a COVID-19 prescreening and early warning digital interface. This technology enables citizens to interact directly with Government in an official and trusted manner.

UNATHI is an accessible ChatBot available over both WhatsApp and FaceBook Messenger and assists both:

  • South Africans, in providing COVID-19 testing details and prescreening information, and
  • The South African Government, in collating and reporting real-time citizen COVID19- related activity and symptoms.

Through Unathi’s easy natural language-guided questions, citizens are able to anonymously:

  • Indicate their location,
  • Report COVID-19 symptoms presenting in themselves, family or household members,
  • Find their closest public or private testing facility,
  • Report their test activity and results, and
  • Receive health tips and information.

South Africa GovChat, which offers a range of citizen government engagement features, was developed in line with Government’s district delivery model. As the lead department over the National Disaster Management Act, CoGTA is mandated to capacitate the various government departments with real-time insight and coordinate data across stakeholders. GovChat’s dashboard feeds will be permanently screened at the National Disaster Management nerve center to assist the department with planning, resource allocation and coordination of local, provincial and national delivery arms of state.

Furthermore, GovChat and CoGTA have also launched a geo-location search feature, that enables citizens to identify their traditional leader, based upon the citizen’s location. Traditional Leaders play a key role in managing the response to Covid-19 in their respective areas. In the similar manner in which South Africa GovChat currently capacitates Ward Councillors with real-time insight into the issues that affect their respective wards, Traditional Leaders and Authorities are empowered to assist with the awareness creation, referral to testing/screening sites, tracking as well as identification of quarantine sites.

“This technology not only automates many of our time-consuming manual processes but more importantly, provides Government with real time information to allow for adaptive and responsive decision-making and actions. This coupled with data feeds being coordinated with the National Disaster Management Centre, The National Com- mand Centre and the Department of Health, is going to be a game changer. We now implore South African’s to speak to us and highlight their COVID-19 status and that of their communities,” the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said.

To maximize awareness, Absa and MTN have partnered with GovChat to encourage South Africans to engage with Unathi. Between the two corporates, over 30 million South African’s will receive direct messages introducing South Africa GovChat and providing instructions to initiate the chat on either of the messaging platforms.


“The more citizen’s embrace this technology and report their status, the more effective we can be in reducing the impact of the pandemic on South African’s lives and livelihoods”, says Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive Corporate Affairs, MTN.

“We thank our partners, MTN and Absa for their support with the GovChat Awareness Campaign,” say Eldrid Jordaan, GovChat CEO.

“As a partner to the South African Government,” continues Jordaan, “we commit every available resource to supporting the National Government’s efforts to understanding the real time status of this pandemic. We believe in the power of partnerships and rapid effective coordinated technology deployment. We have partnered with CoGTA over many years in the development of the features and early warning system which exist today.”

To access UNATHI on WhatsApp, add the number 082 046 8553 to your device. Then just type “COVID19” to UNATHI when her contact is called on WhatsApp and get GovChatting. On Face- book, search for GovChat and facebook messenger will start GovChatting.

“Let’s help Government help our country to flatten the curve.”

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