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Building a Covid-19 Chatbot for Nigerians


Corona viruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19. (source:WHO)


What is a Chabot?

A Chabot is an artificial intelligence (AI) software that can simulate a conversation (or a chat) with a user in natural language through messaging applications, websites, mobile apps or through the telephone.

Why are Chabots important?

A Chabot is often described as one of the most advanced and promising expressions of interaction between humans and machines. However, from a technological point of view, a Chabot only represents the natural evolution of a Question answering system leveraging Natural Language Processing (NLP). Formulating responses to questions in natural language is one of the most typical Examples of Natural Language Processing applied in various enterprises’ end-use applications.


information dissemination

Information dissemination is the transportation of information to the intended recipients while satisfying certain requirements such as delay, reliability, and so forth. These requirements vary, depending upon the information being disseminated

In the event of an emerging disease, a number of factors could influence the course of an epidemic spreading through a society of human beings. Besides preventive and control measures implemented by public health, individual characteristics play an important role in disease transmission and control. These characteristics may relate to the health statuses of the individuals, but also to the perception of risk and severity of infection that could influence behavioral responses and social norms. Such responses may change disease dynamics at both the individual and population level

1. Crawl Twitter Data using 30 Lines of Python Code

2. A Conversational UI Maturity Model: a guide to take your bot to the next level

3. Designing a chatbot for an improved customer experience

4. Chat bots — A Conversational AI

The coronavirus outbreak occurred in our modern, highly connected, information-dense world. Yet, dissemination of accurate, up-to-date information about the spread of the disease remains a challenge.

Traditional media in Nigeria (radio, TV and print channels) have shrinking audiences and the best require subscriptions for access. The NCDC though have made text messages alerts available, but the limitation of character volume per text message is limited which makes vital information absent like the statistics. Younger audiences prefer social media over traditional channels but many social media channels have been challenged by fake news and privacy breaches, and aren’t always fully reliable. Chatbots are reliable because they provide curated accurate information as at the time it was updated.


chatbot response agent

Chabots, is a new technology that allows information access through text or voice-based interaction, that is proving its worth during the coronavirus crisis and showing how this new communications channel can be leveraged in the years ahead by a range of groups and institutions.

· 24/7 Availability to respond to queries

Chatbots can been a natural choice for disseminating health information during this coronavirus crisis which never goes on break or becomes tired just like human can be overwhelmed with lots of calls. Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) have enabled conversational AI technologies and widened their reach, leading to tools such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Home that are part of many consumers’ every day lives.

· Quick Access to information

Chatbots are perfect for when users are looking for NCDC generic COVID-19 related information. Especially, since they cannot wait to talk to a real official, this information is crucial to be received right away 24/7. These questions can be:

What is the number of cases in a state?

What is the lockdown/curfew situation?

Where can I get a test done?

What are the symptoms?

How does the virus spread?

What number do I need to call for help?

· Offers strong potential for curated accurate information

Widespread adoption of Chabot for COVID-19 information can also reduce the burden on NCDC call centres . The Chabot’s’ interactive symptom checking feature can potentially lower the volume of cases in urgent care and emergency care.

· Intuitive and smart

The intuitive interface of Chatbots presents a low-friction approach to disseminate critical information to vast populations. People can approach the Chatbot with little or no knowledge about them because of their smart user interface

Chatbot applications streamline interactions between people and services, enhancing experience. At the same time, they offer NCDC new opportunities to improve the citizens engagement process and operational efficiency.

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