Whatsapp (new) links fail

I am flumoxed - I use whatsapp for desktop (not a mobile), I was sent a link: -
[https://api.whatsapp.com/send?phone=+49 163 xxxxxxx
(numerics are known but xxx… for privacy)
all I get on whatsapp is “Phone number shared via url is invalid”
Such is infuriating! - please, I am handicapped & rely on using my laptop as a phone…
I have tried a few google searches to no avail… Thank you.