Busting Myths and Fake News on Covid – 19
Mabud Ali earns a living by selling cow’s milk. He has two cows; an Indian and a Jersey. But now he has an additional income. He sells 1 Kg of cow dung for Rs. 500 and 1 liter of cow urine for Rs. 500 on the streets of West Bengal, all thanks to Coronavirus. In Gujarat, Raju Patel used to sell about 80 bottles of Gaumutra (cow urine) on a daily basis. But after the Coronavirus, the demand has gone up to around 425 bottles a day. People believe that Gaumutra boosts immunity and amidst the Coronavirus, the belief and panic has increased manifold. In some places, it is also used to manufactures body spray to keep the microbes away.
Among other things, the people, the health workers and the government have had to battle Fake News and Misinformation that comes with the calamity. People get believable info graphics, links or screenshots that tell them how to be safe during these times and without second thoughts they share them to their loved ones. They think they are helping others but in fact, they are causing more and increasing panic at certain times.
While cow urine consumption isn’t new in India, there’s no scientific proof that it could keep the virus at bay. Considering the unhygienic lifestyle in rural areas, it really isn’t ideal drinking an animal’s urine during these times, no matter how holy or medicinal it is claimed to be.
A cow urine consumption programme was organized in North Kolkata with claims that consuming cow urine will protect people from Coronavirus and cure the ones that have already contracted the disease. BJP West Bengal chief has admitted that he drinks cow urine and that he has no qualms in doing so. A local party worker in West Bengal organized a cow worship programme and distributed urine thereby vouching for its miraculous properties. One among those who drank the urine was admitted to hospital as he suffered from nausea and vomiting. In Chitradurga district of Karnataka, few men decided to bathe in cow dung and cow urine as a process of sanitizing themselves to keep Coronavirus at bay.
If you have had enough of cow dung and urine, I have fresh content shared by the Whatsapp University (that’s a fake university). If it’s still not clear, you aren’t supposed to believe any of the below-mentioned points because we are discussing Fake News and Misinformation here (I need to break down my jokes during these times):
- Right from the beginning, an easy Test for Coronavirus was being circulated. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds without difficulty, you don’t have Coronavirus. Now imagine if people tried this, couldn’t hold their breaths and freaked out! This test was proved to be fake.
- There was an advisory from UNICEF to avoid ice creams and cold food as coronavirus cannot spread in areas of 27 degrees or more. Again, wrong information!
- Videos of men being shot, bodies lying on streets, large number of bodies being disposed etc, were being circulated along-with write ups that associated them with coronavirus. Some of them were debunked and found to be old video clips or clips from movie scenes.
- I received a link titled, “Chinese Intelligence Officer Reveals True Magnitude of China’s Fake Coronavirus Crisis”. It talked about a camp in China where they biological agents were being developed and human experimentation was being conducted. The article described at lengths the effect of these agents and went on to explain that the agent leaked from the lab. It began to spread, causing symptoms of flu and that people were made to believe that it was the ‘Coronavirus’. I remember reading this super long article and freaking out half way through as it got more and more grotesque.
However, it only took one Google search to understand that the article was a horror fiction originally published in a section of reddit, dedicated to scary fiction stories. These posts are made to seem realistic and the users in this platform have to comment on them as if they were real. But the moment the article leaves its source without any additional footnote, it creates havoc as the writings are so realistic, extremely detailed and intense. When I received the link, the adjoining message read, ‘Read this article before it gets deleted by Google’ which is reason enough to freak out!
- Another forward talked about how Alcohol consumption could keep the virus at bay. Since hand sanitizers with alcohol content could kill the virus, people automatically assumed that cosuming alcohol should be the final solution.
There were many more simple home remedies that were suggested to kill coronavirus and finally WHO, the Central and State Governments decided to burst the myths.
During these days when information is available even when we don’t need it, and the number of uneducated people and well meaning people in a state of panic are high, it will be difficult to differentiate right from wrong. People can’t be blamed for believing it. But we are at fault when we forward the message without fact-checking. The simplest tool at your disposal is google.
But most importantly, follow the directives of the State Government, Central Government or the World Health Organization. You will find all you need to know about Coronavirus in their website. Let us be responsible human beings.
So what are some of the myths that you heard?
Today’s movie recommendation for you – Iruvar – a Tamil classic that spewed a lot of controversy in Tamil Nadu during its release.
This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.
Images are all from the website of WHO