UPDATED 21:51 EDT / MARCH 22 2020

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Apple updates Siri to provide coronavirus advice to users

Apple Inc. has updated its Siri voice assistant to provide coronavirus advice to users including a test to see whether they have caught COVID-19.

The virtual assistant now responds to questions such as “do I have coronavirus” with a series of questions to ascertain whether the Apple user has the virus or not.

Questions include whether the Apple user has a fever and dry cough as well as if they are having difficulty breathing. Siri will then advise people  either to stay at home or to consider call 911 depending on their responses.

Apple said the answers are from the U.S. Public Health Service, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNBC reported Saturday. The service is currently available to Siri users only in the U.S. and it’s not known if or when it will be available in other countries.

In addition to providing Siri coronavirus advice, Apple is also promoting telehealth applications in its App Store when a user asks Siri about the global coronavirus pandemic. Apple is reported to be expediting COVID-19 applications from reputable sources as a way to ensure that users get legitimate health advice.

Apple is also stepping up to the plate during the coronavirus pandemic by donating millions of masks to healthcare workers. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook tweeted Saturday that the mask donations will go healthcare workers in both the U.S. and Europe.

The company was early to recognize the severity of COVID-19 and was among the first to close its stores in mainland China as the virus spread through the Middle Kingdom.

Although Apple’s supply chain in mainland China has returned to normal levels, the company will be hit by a widespread drop in consumer spending as large parts of the world go into shutdown because of the pandemic.

Apple shares fell more than 6% Friday, to $229.24, their lowest level since October. With Asian stock markets plunging again Monday morning local time, darker times are ahead for Apple investors.

Photo: iphonedigital/Flickr

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