An ‘advisory’ note on precautions to be taken in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, said to be issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Delhi, has been doing the rounds on social media. Among other things, the note advises people not to wear watches, belts and rings, avoid going to salons and to favour a vegetarian diet. However, ICMR officials confirmed to TNM that this advisory is fake, and that the institution has not released any such guidelines.
While the note mentions precautions such as social distancing, wearing masks and using sanitiser, it also included some non-factual claims such as avoiding carrying handkerchiefs in public and bringing shoes inside the house. The note also says to postpone international travel plans for two years, avoid eating food from outside for one year, staying away from crowded places for a year and to avoid places like malls, cinema theatres and marketplaces for six months. It also says to “be very careful in the current one week”.
Among the false claims that the fake advisory makes is to avoid carrying handkerchiefs in public, but to instead use sanitiser and tissue paper if required. It also says to favour vegetarian food in order to stay safe from the coronavirus, a claim that has no scientific backing.
However, the fake note does advise people to wash hands frequently, follow social distancing and to wear masks in public. It also reminds people that the “threat of the coronavirus is not going to end soon.”
Reacting to the fake advisory, officials of the ICMR urged the public to only refer to the institution’s COVID-19 guidelines published on its website, and not messages that are circulated on social media. The officials added that though they have already clarified two times that the advisory being circulated is fake, it is still being shared on messaging platforms.