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Having read through all of this thread I feel I can help. However there are a few things you need to check and also in the correct order otherwise it's pretty pointless.
First step is the Apple settings app...
Settings - Notifications - Whatsapp
Make sure notifications are on. Make sure sounds are also set to on.
Now you need to head into Whatsapp and check the settings there...
Whatsapp - Settings - Notifications
Make sure there isn't text at the top that says 'WARNING: Push Notifications are disabled. To enable visit: iPhone Settings > Notification Center > WhatsApp'
There are three settings here. Message, Group and Call. Make sure all of them are set to on. Also make sure there is a sound assigned to them. The defaults are Message and group 'Note' and call is set to 'Opening'
There is also an in app notification section. This should all be fine as you have said it works when you are in the app.
Also, just out of interest, which version of Whatsapp are you using? This can be found in Whatsapp - Settings - About.