Mentioning the news article in a prominent Malayalam daily, CM Pinarayi spoke at large on the dangers of spreading fake news in times of a pandemic.

Kerala CM lashes out at media over spreading fake news on Poonthura protests
Coronavirus Coronavirus Sunday, July 12, 2020 - 10:12

Pausing his COVID-19 updates for the day, the Kerala Chief Minister on Saturday looked up at the camera to speak directly to the journalists in the state. "What I have to say next is for the media," he said at the evening video conference with the press. Mentioning the news article in a prominent Malayalam daily, CM Pinarayi spoke at large on the danger of spreading fake news during these times of pandemic spread.

The news story had alleged that members of the ruling LDF were also behind instigating the people in Thiruvananthapuram's Poonthura to get out on the street and protest on Friday. The protests happened after a misunderstanding among the people that the coronavirus tests being conducted on them were inaccurate and the numbers shown as positive from the region were bloated. Poonthura has been reporting a high number of positive cases in the last few days, forcing a triple lockdown in the city corporation as well as strict regulations.

However, difficulties caused by the lockdown as well as the confusion caused by fake messages led to angry protests, with some of them attacking health workers who had reached the spot to collect their samples.

CM Pinarayi said, “When Poonthura became a critical containment zone, some conniving sources spread fear and brought people on the street. At the same time, there were volunteers to clear the misunderstanding and provide awareness to the people about the disease. But the newspaper story published today with a misleading photo would destroy the good work done so far.”

The Chief Minister had on Friday alleged that supporters of the Opposition UDF appeared to be behind the protest during which people came out in large numbers without following the precautions against COVID-19. On Saturday, a Malayalam daily claimed that two of the LDF workers photographed as talking to the protestors were also behind the unrest. However, the CM said that these were the regional leaders that the government sought the help of, along with parish priests, to spread awareness to the people about the disease. The police and the priests in the photo were cut out, the CM alleged.

“Since most of the people there are believers, the government sought the help of priests as well as regional leaders to talk to the people and make peace. In the photo published by the newspaper, the police and priests standing next to these leaders were cut off from the picture. This is not media ethics,” he said.

Read: They coughed at us, banged on car: Kerala doctor recounts protests in Poonthura

Meanwhile, 488 persons were tested positive in Kerala on Saturday. 143 patients have recovered. Saifudheen, 66, from Thiruvananthapuram and PK Balachandran. 79, from Ernakulam, succumbed to the disease on Saturday. Among positive patients who tested positive, 167 are from foreign countries, 76 from other states and 234 people have been infected through contacts.

The patients include two health workers, two Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) officials and two Border Security Force staff members. 12,104 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. 1,82,050 people are currently under quarantine in the state.

There are 195 hotspots in the state. In many places, the spread of infection through contact has increased. CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that super spreading happens just before the community spread, and soon Kerala may go into the third phase.

In Kasaragod district, it was found that the infection was spread from a few vegetable shops and fruit shops. In Ernakulam, it was found that a woman who turned positive had 123 primary contacts and 19 among them turned positive.

CM said that Malappuram district is also under critical condition due to the spread through contact. A complete lockdown was announced in Malappuram’s Ponnani.

In Thiruvananthapuram district, there are 46 cases who were infected through contact and the source of  11 cases were unknown. There are 45 containment zones in the district. 262 positive patients are from Poonthura area as of now.

Chief Minister said that the COVID-19 hospital being built by the TATA group is at its final stage in Kasaragod district. The hospital has 540 beds.

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