A widely circulated and seemingly legitimate news article claims that a first-year student of Hindu College tested positive for the Coronavirus. However, the article is fake and is an edited version of an earlier article.
An edited screenshot of an India Today web article bearing the headline “Coronavirus Outbreak: First year student studying at Hindu College in North Campus of University of Delhi tested positive for virus” was circulated in WhatsApp group chats and other social media causing confusion among students of the College. The article was quickly debunked as many pointed that the headline did not match the text above it, which showed belonged to the original report titled “Coronavirus Outbreak: Paytm employee in Gurgaon tested positive for virus, says company.”
Further stoking the pandemonium and giving a sense of legitimacy to the article was the editing of the ‘time of posting’ of the article to 2:15 p.m., 5th March, leading many to believe the article had recently been posted and was ‘breaking news’. The post soon spread to other College groups as well and made the rounds across group chats of classes, subjects, departments, and societies. Many students seemed seriously concerned considering the recent emergence of Coronavirus cases in Delhi, and the state of paranoia surrounding the outbreak with masks and hand sanitisers in hot demand. The number of confirmed cases in India have reached thirty-one, with the Government issuing travel advisories asking people to refrain from non-essential travelling to Korea, Iran, Italy and China. The Government has also suspended Visa-on-arrival for Japanese and Korean nationals, in addition to suspending all visas granted to individuals from the mentioned countries before the 3rd March 2020.
Information regarding the Coronavirus is readily available on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website as well as Government outlets. The Delhi Police also posted a graphic on Twitter urging people to abstain from spreading rumours, fake news or hate messages on social media platforms, which may attract “upto 5 years imprisonment” or a fine.
Feature Image Credits: Aakarsh Gupta for DU Beat.
Tashi Dorjay Sherpa