No ‘April Fool’ pranks amid COVID-19 scare, warns Mizoram minister
Aizawl: Raising concern about the increasing misuse of social media in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, Mizoram home minister Lalchamliana on Monday cautioned people against pranks in run-up to April Fool’s Day on Wednesday.
April Fool’s Day, which falls on April 1, is an annual custom in which people practise jokes and hoaxes.
In a recorded statement, Lalchamliana said that people should refrain from April Fool pranks and avoid resorting to hoaxes or jokes on the day as it could create panic amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It's my earnest request to the people to avoid jokes, hoaxes and harmless prank on April fool’s day to avoid unnecessary panic in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
He said that the spread of fake news and rumours on social media since a few weeks has created panic and coronavirus phobia among the people.
Earlier, on Sunday, the police said that more than 18 people have been arrested so far for spreading fake news about coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Google has dropped the plan of playing an April Fool’s day prank. The company took the decision due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Lalchamliana, however, lauded the people for maintaining strict social distancing norms during the lockdown by staying indoors. He said the Mizo people are law-abiding citizen and their obedience to the government’s order has made Mizoram one of the successful states in the country in observing the nationwide lockdown.
He appealed to the people to keep up the custom as confining to their houses is the only best solution to contain the deadly virus. “Together, if we obey the government guidelines and follow social distancing by not stepping out of homes, we can fight this deadly virus and overcome one day,” he said.
The home minister also lauded health workers and paramedics, who are on the frontline to fight the novel coronavirus. He said that the role played by health workers, officials, Grade IV employees, policemen dealing in essential services and media persons who feed authenticated news to the people, are noteworthy.
According to Lalchamliana, the state police forces and local volunteers were working round-the-clock to maintain vigil during lockdown to prevent social gathering. He said that police personnel were on guard in at least 54 duty posts along the inter-state and international borders and 205 places across the state.
Mizoram reported the first case of coronavirus when a 50-year-old pastor tested positive on March 25. He is undergoing treatment at Zoram Medical College (ZMC) near Aizawl and he is improving, according to health department officials. His wife and two kids were discharged from the college after they tested negative on Saturday.
Officials of the health department said that more than 61,300 people have been screened for novel coronavirus and at least 200 were quarantine till Monday. Eight people have been isolated at ZMC and 44 samples have been tested so far, of which 28 were tested negative and results of 15 samples were awaited.