India’s national toll-free helpline number (#1075) to address queries on COVID-19 had in the last week of March recorded up to 50,000 phone calls after Prime Minister Modi announced a nationwide lockdown in view of coronavirus. However, on an average 30,000 phone calls are being answered every day related to queries on coronavirus.
The 24×7 toll-free national helpline was launched by the Union health ministry in mid-march when India started to report cases of COVID-19.
All phone calls on ‘1075’ are managed and closely monitored by the National Health Authority’s (NHA) call centre based in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Delhi.
“However, since the lockdown condition, the call centre agents are taking the calls from home, mostly on their mobiles and making all efforts to help in the COVID-19 response,” said the official.
The call centre agents are ensuring that all guidelines provided by the Union Health Ministry, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are followed strictly and the caller is provided all support, said the official.
“We have received up to 50,000 phone calls as a highest spike in day in the last week of March, but on an average, we are answering at least 30,000 phone calls every day. At NHA, we have good facility to receive feedback from people. We also have beneficiary empowered mechanism to handle query related to COVID-19,” Praveen Gedam, Additional CEO at NHA told ANI.
He added that these phone calls reflect that awareness of people on coronavirus.
“Basically, people want information on COVID-19 related to diagnostic, awareness, hospital, lockdown situation, travel, food and other essential supply. Some people also seek information on government guidelines/advisories,” said the official.
He added that in cases of any emergency or where caller is not getting support locally, call centre executives are escalating such cases to appropriate authorities immediately.
Apart from these general calls related to COVID-19, the call centre agents are also receiving spam calls. “Spam calls are very few and there are varied reasons for such calls which cannot be grouped in any particular category,” he said.
According to the official, they are making all efforts to help in the COVID-19 response. “Necessary arrangements were done before the lockdown itself to route the calls to mobile numbers of Call Centre Executives (CCE).”