By Snigdha Nalini & Vanisha Jagwani
A message on WhatsApp is doing rounds stating that the government plans to ease down the lockdown restrictions imposed in the country in five stages. The viral message claims that “these phases will be on a 3 week review process, the current phases would commence on the following dates:
Another message speaks at length about the relaxations the government will introduce in each of its subsequent phases.
In view of the current lockdown ending on May 17, this message has gone viral claiming ICMR in the beginning as authentic source. This message is also doing rounds on social media.
A Facebook page- ‘Coronavirus Protection’- had posted the same message as a post on May 5, 2020. Digiteye India has taken up fact checking in view of similar message debunked last month attributing the lockdown to World Health Organization (WHO).
Words like “cocooning”, “solitary workers”, mention of “GAA and soccer”, have been used. These are never used in any official text of the government or its affiliated agencies, not to mention Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body advising the government currently on coronavirus pandemic.
A quick Google keyword search landed us on articles and reports from the United Kingdom. A report by Reuters states how Ireland had announced small steps to ease restrictions and gradually open up the economy. We checked the official website for the Government of Ireland and found out that the government has come out with a “Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business” which will be effective from May 18, 2020. This roadmap was published by the Irish government on their website on May 1, 2020.
The roadmap is divided into five phases- May 18, June 8, June 29, July 20, and August 10. The Irish government has uploaded a detailed 23 page report on how it plans to ease the restrictions and has also come up with a visual infographic summarizing the same. Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach/Prime Minister, of Ireland also tweeted a 1:52 minute video where he speaks the, “(our) plan is to reopen the country in a slow, staged, phased way.
The repetition of the Irish plan and claiming that it was India’s plan to ease lockdown was found to be false, nor did the ICMR make any such plan public. Hence, the claim in the message is not true.
While there are a few pointers in the forward that we can stand to benefit from, there are many that spark fear-mongering. For instance, it states that one must “prefer vegetarian food.” AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria said, “Coronavirus is an infection that spreads mainly from person-to-person and consumption of non-vegetarian food or eggs does not cause the infection. As a common healthcare precaution, all kinds of meat should be thoroughly washed and properly cooked.”
Also, one of the topics in the guidelines that has not been addressed logically is wearing rings, watches, etc. Hand washing is a must, especially a thorough 20-second wash during a virus-induced pandemic. It should be noted that the rings and watches people wear on a daily basis could possibly obstruct in maintaining absolute hand hygiene.
A 2018 study from researchers at Georgia State University found that the use of finger rings could reduce the effectiveness of these hand hygiene practices. Researchers observed a higher number of bacteria on hands with rings than on hands without rings, but the scrubbing procedure did not reduce the bacterial count significantly.
However, as per jewelry historian Elizabeth Doyle, If you can’t part with your rings, jewelry wearers should wash their rings with hot and soapy water to disinfect the pieces without ruining them, which could be the case with hand sanitizer used as a jewelry cleaner.
The claim in the message does not stand true for the lockdown in India. Our rating ??- Misinterpretation.