Several posts claiming positive coronavirus cases in state find their way into WhatsApp groups, add to panic among residents; all of them found to be fake
Tinsukia: At a time when the country is facing a partial shutdown to contain the spreading of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) amid rising cases of the deadly disease in several states of the country, spreading of rumours and fake news has added to the panic in Assam.
COVID-19, a pandemic declared by World Health Organization (WHO), has so far claimed over 6,680 lives globally, including two in India, according to statistics provided by https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.
On Monday, the image of a screenshot, similar to a reputed national English newspaper's digital handle, surfaced on WhatsApp with the heading 'Coronavirus News Live Updates: Four more people tested positive for Coronavirus in Dibrugarh railway station’. The subhead read: ‘Four more people have been tested positive for Coronavirus in Dibrugarh and Jorhat medical college’.
This was followed by a video of a passenger being taken away by railway authorities from a railway station. A red-coloured train standing on the platform can be seen in the visuals with someone speaking in Assamese. This video was circulated with a tag line -- ‘Coronavirus found in Tinsukia’.
The false posts, that found their way into WhatsApp groups, only added to the panic among residents.
When EastMojo spoke to the authorities concerned in district administration and railway, the claims in the posts turned out to be fake.
Talking to EastMojo, Jorhat deputy commissioner Roshani A Korati said that the piece of news is absolutely false. "There are no positive cases in Jorhat."
Appealing citizens, Korati said that information is the need of the hour. "However, mis-information can be damaging."
"One should refrain from sharing, spreading and making unverified informations viral on social media," Korati added.
The senior DCM of Tinsukia railway division, too, told EastMojo that no coronavirus case has been detected and found positive in Tinsukia railway division.
A resident of Tinsukia, who wished not to be quoted, said, that he found the posts in a WhatsApp group. "Initially, I also thought them to be true as it resembled a digital handle of a reputed newspaper."
EastMojo has learnt that the video purportedly posted with coronavirus being found in Tinsukia was a video shot at Simalguri railway station in Sivasagar district on Sunday when a suspected patient was being taken into an ambulance. "However, it is not clear whether the screenshot of the newspaper is part of misreporting or an edited fake screenshot."
Talking to EastMojo, additional deputy commissioner (health) of Dibrugarh Dipu Deka said, "So, far there are no positive cases of coronavirus in Dibrugarh district. On Sunday, one person was admitted to Assam Medical College and Hospital and is kept in isolation. His reports are being awaited."
According to reports, the positive case of coronavirus in India has surged to 129, including the two deaths, so far.