Fact-Check: Viral COVID-19 ‘Advisory’ Falsely Attributed to ICMR
A list containing 21 guidelines such as avoiding travelling abroad and maintaining social distancing to prevent COVID-19 has gone viral with a claim that it was issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
This comes as several states in India are witnessing a steep rise in daily confirmed coronavirus cases.
However, we found that the advisory, which was also viral last year, was not issued by the ICMR, which is the apex research body for COVID-19. The advisory was previously attributed to Ganga Ram Hospital and Dr Devi Shetty, Founder and Chairman of Narayana Health. The Quint’s WebQoof team had debunked this claim.
The advisory lists out 21 steps to be taken in the course of the next six months to 12 months to stay safe from COVID-19.
Some of the points mentioned in the advisory are:
- Postpone travel abroad for 2 years
- Do not eat outside food for 1 year
- Do not go to unnecessary marriage or other similar ceremony
- Do not take unnecessary travel trips
- Do not go to a crowded place for at least 1 year.
The claim is once again being shared by many on Facebook and Twitter. We also received queries with the same claim on our WhatsApp tipline.
What We Found Out
We looked up the official website for ICMR and didn’t find any such advisory on it. The last press release posed on 3 March was titled, “Phase 3 Clinical Trial of COVAXIN, developed by ICMR & Bharat Biotech, shows 81% efficacy”.
We also studied the points mentioned in the advisory and could spot some spelling, grammatical mistakes and factual inaccuracies in the advisory. For example, the 10th point of the message says, “Do not let the any mess around you.”
Several claims made in the advisory were not scientifically proven. These include claims like having vegetarian food, not wearing a belt, rings and wristwatches, avoiding handkerchiefs, and so on.
The second point asks people to “not eat outside food for 1 year”. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are no studies to prove that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. It recommends to “wash hands properly after handling food packages and before eating.”
The Quint had also previously debunked a claim that said that vegetarians were safe from COVID-19. This claim is repeated in this advisory.
The advisory also talks about removing shoes before entering one’s home. The WHO, in an advisory, has mentioned that “the likelihood of COVID-19 being spread on shoes and infecting individuals is very low.”
However, it also mentions leaving the shoes outside as a hygienic practice, especially if one has kids at home.
One point in the advisory asks people to avoid using a handkerchief. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that cloth can be used for protection against COVID-19 and it should cover the nose and mouth. The advisory also asks to wash the cloth daily.
How to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19?
According to the WHO, here are a few guidelines one should follow to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
- Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth
- Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Stay home if you feel unwell
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.
Evidently, the viral list of precautions containing 21 advice on how to avoid COVID-19 was not released by the ICMR. The same list has been viral since at least March 2020.
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