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Google sets up SOS alert for Coronavirus: Here’s what it means

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: January 31, 2020 5:27:37 pm

Google, Google Coronavirus SOS, Coronavirus SOS, Google SOS, Google SOS Alert, Coronavirus India Tourists from Wuhan, China, go through health checks as wait for a charter flight back to Wuhan at the Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan 31, 2020. A group of Chinese tourists who have been trapped in Thailand since Wuhan was locked down due to an outbreak of new virus returned to China on Friday. (Image source: AP)

The Coronavirus outbreak has officially been declared Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organisation. The Coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, China, but cases have also been reported in other parts of the world, including in Kerala in India. Now, Google has also launched an SOS alert for the Coronavirus, which will make it easier to people to get official information on the topic.

An SOS alert means that when a user searches for Coronavirus in the Google Search bar, they will find the alert on the top of the results page along with direct access to safety tips, information, resources & Twitter updates from WHO.

Searching for Coronavirus on Google shows the SOS alert on top, followed by the top three news items, followed by links and conversations on Twitter around the topic, and then the ‘Help and information’ section, which links to the WHO’s official pages around the issue.

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There’s also safety tips displayed in a dedicated box. Google has sourced these tips from WHO, which gives advice such as keeping hands clean with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, covering the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue and avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms. Users can also search for more tips right from this box itself.

What are Google’s SOS alerts?

Google’s SOS alerts were introduced in 2017 and these are specially curated search results design to bring the most relevant information for any public crisis, be it a natural calamity or a human-caused crisis. With SOS alerts the idea is to make emergency information more accessible and the search results are ad-free.

In its support page, Google explains that they look at a number of factors when deciding to show an SOS alert. “We look at a number of factors, such as internet connectivity in the affected area, the availability of official content from governments and other authoritative organizations, and the impact on the ground. SOS Alerts are typically available in the primary languages of the affected area, as well as English,” notes the page.

For the content, Google says it sources this from “government agencies, first responders, trusted media outlets, and NGOs.” They also put together information from Google News, Google Maps, Waze, and more, which could relevant in an SOS alert.

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Updated: January 31, 2020 — 1:56 pm

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