Fake news over COVID-19 sends panchayat into a tizzy

Audio clip on person returned from Dubai goes viral

Fake news that a man in home quarantine tested positive for COVID-19 sent Keezhmad panchayat in Vazhakkulam block along the eastern suburbs of the district into a tizzy for good part of the day on Monday.

The news was triggered by an alarmist audio clip that went viral on social media asking people to stay away and shops to down shutters. Ironically, the man, a resident near Thottumukham along the Aluva-Munnar Road, was not even in the district but was actually at his wife’s house in Alappuzha even as the fake news was being circulated.

As the fake news gained considerable traction, Abhilash Ashokan, chairman of the panchayat health standing committee, clarified that there was no such positive case, and that the news was indeed fake. He warned of police action against those responsible for spreading the rumour.

“He had come from Bahrain via Abu Dhabi on March 18 and was taken to Government Medical College, Kalamasserry, the next day. And from there he was taken to his wife’s house at Alappuzha in an ambulance where he has been in quarantine since then,” said Mr. Ashokan.

On Monday morning, he complained of throat discomfort following which he was taken to the Alappuzha Medical College. However, after finding that it was an allergy, he was given medicines and sent back home.

“I was informed by the Special Branch police about the person after some people reportedly complained that he was roaming around. I enquired about it and came to know that the man was not even here,” Kunjumuhammad Saidali, member of the ward where the person lives, said.

Interestingly, the panchayat was yet to lodge a police complaint till evening.

When asked about it, Mr. Ashokan said they were planning to hand over the audio clip to the police.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:38:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/fake-news-over-covid-19-sends-panchayat-into-a-tizzy/article31147208.ece

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