At a time when the dreaded coronavirus was not even spreading in India, a fake news rumor already took the life of an Andhra man. Now, as the virus is taking its grip, more fake news about it is making its way. Tweets regarding how alcohol based hand sanitizers are ineffective against the virus are garnering thousands of retweets.
There have also been some WhatsApp forwards about how China wants to kill over 20 thousand people to stop the spread of coronavirus. Naturally, this is fake news.
With more than 90,000 confirmed cases in over 70 countries, fears regarding the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) have spread all over the world. However, with the lack of basic information and the ambiance of fear, people in the world, especially India are more prone to fall prey to fear mongering fake WhatsApp and Facebook shares. Messages like how seasonal flu kills more people than coronavirus definitely need to be stopped.
WhatsApp forwards, while seemingly benign, may cause more harm than good. None of the claims regarding the prevention of coronavirus in your run-of-the-mill family group WhatsApp forwards are backed either by the WHO, the Ministry of Home Affairs, or medical science. Yet, messages like these are spread from group to group – almost as if the virus of ignorance is more infectious than the novel coronavirus.
Combating Fake News Against Coronavirus-
To combat the rise of fake news, a student developer from New Delhi has made a webapp that aims to dispel these myths and provide facts regarding the coronavirus, and how to protect oneself against it.
“The webapp explains how the coronavirus spreads, what items to stock up on, and how to protect oneself against the virus,” said Dirag Biswas, the creator behind the webapp. “I’ve been reading whatever I could get my hands on about the coronavirus for the last 3 months, from reports to scientific papers tracking the disease progression.”
The webapp, aptly named prepkarona.in, also allows the reader to choose from one out of 10 regional languages of India, and also download the website as a PDF for later use.
“About a week back when I noticed the sharp spike of cases in Iran and the US, I decided to make a webapp that tells the ordinary layman, in simple terms, what he needs to know. I then spent a few sleepless nights and money to get this up and running.”
There has been a new spike in coronavirus cases in Iran and the US. While the virus has claimed the lives of some high profile people in Iran, the US started panicking when a White House employee tested positive for coronavirus.
According to latest data, the number of cases in India is over 500 now. Over a million people are kept under strict watch. Lockdowns and curfews are ranking place in many major Indian cities. Let us hope that proper information and awareness spreads faster than this deadly virus. As the virus spreads, remember to not be a prey to false information on the virus. Also remember, whatever the statistics might say, the complications involving coronavirus are much much more dangerous than any disease.
With inputs from Dirag Biswas