At a time when the entire country is united to fight the Chinese epidemic COVID-19, a section of ‘liberal-secular’ media is trying to create fear-mongering in the society by indulging in a blatant disinformation campaign.
In an attempt to create panic in the society amidst the Wuhan Coronavirus scare, the ultra-left wing website – The Quint, notoriously known for spreading false information time and again, has yet again caught peddling fake news. This time, the Quint not only misled people by twisting an ‘opinion’ of an individual to claim that the country was in the middle in the cycle of Community transmission of Coronavirus, but also called him a doctor despite him being an engineer.
On Thursday, the Quint published an interview with Dr Girdhar Gyani. The website claimed that he was the convenor of the task Force for COVID-19 hospitals and stated that he had attended a meeting of prominent doctors and healthcare providers chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, 24 March.
In the interview, the Quint strangely introduced Gyani as a ‘doctor’, who according to the left-wing news website, stated that the country was already in the middle of stage-3 community transmission.
Through this interview, the Quint indulged in attacking the government by claiming that it was still following the old stringent policy when it comes to conducting coronavirus tests. The left-wing news website also claimed that the alleged ‘doctor’ had stated to them that the country was already under stage-3 of the transmission and the Modi government was not making it official.
However, Gyani speaking to ANI has outrightly rejected making any such claims and stated that the Quint through such headline has blown his statements out of proportion.
Gyani has clarified that he, in fact, stated, “luckily till today increase in the number of cases is pure arithmetic while in the community spread its goes geometrically or exponentially”, which the Quint twisted his statements to propagate as if India was in the middle of community transmission.
ANI’s health reporter @journo_priyanka reached out to Dr Girdhar Gyani who says this headline was blown out of proportion. Dr Girdhar clarified, “luckily till today increase in No. of cases is pure arithmetic while in community spread its goes geometrically or exponentially” https://t.co/bDkRbvnmGP— ishaan prakash (@ishaan_ANI) March 27, 2020
It is pertinent to note that Dr Girdhar Gyani is not even a ‘doctor’ as claimed by ‘journalist’ Poonam Agarwal of the Quint. In reality, Dr Girdhar Gyani is a Quality Engineer who later obtained a PhD degree. He is neither a medical practitioner nor an epidemiologist. Dr Gyani is the Director-General of the Association of Healthcare Providers (India) – AHPI.
According to AHPI website, which Gyani represents, the organisation represents the majority of healthcare providers in India. It works as “not for profit” organization and advocates with the government, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders on issues, which “have a bearing on enabling its members’ organizations to deliver appropriate healthcare services to the community at large”.
Hence, the AHPI is neither an expert body on healthcare nor have any experience in dealing with health emergencies such as a virus outbreak.
Further, the AHPI also clarified that Dr Gyani had never stated to The Quint that India was already in the middle of community transmission. In a tweet, AHPI clarified that Gyani had, in fact, categorically stated that India was not in stage-3 but it would be better if the government of India had made all the necessary preparations as if we were in the stage-3 of the transmission.
The most shocking act of misinformation peddled by the Quint was to state that Gyani was part of the meeting of prominent doctors and healthcare providers chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, 24 March. According to the Quint, Gyani was in the capacity of convenor of the task force on COVID-19 private hospitals created in response to an initiative by NITI Aayog.
However, the claim made by the Quint is out-an-out fake news as Dr Gyani was not part of any such meeting with Prime Minister Modi to discuss the coronavirus outbreak as a convenor of task force. Quint mentions ‘Task Force for Covid-19 Hospitals’, but there is no mention of any such task force in any government website. ICMR has formed a task force for Covid-19, but that is a high-level committee of Health Experts, not ‘Covid-19 Hospitals’.
According to the official document released by the Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which has formed the high-level committee of doctors and health experts, in association with NITI Aayog, there is no reference to Dr Gyani being part of the expert group.
According to press releases published by the press information bureau, prime minister Modi interacted with the medical fraternity, which included doctors, nurses and lab technicians, on 24th March, therefore Dr Gyani can’t be part of this meeting. There no mention of any meeting with ‘Task Force for Covid-19 Hospitals’ on 24th March.
From the above, it can be categorically stated that Dr Giridhar Gyani is not part of the Covid-19 task force, and there is no evidence that he was invited to a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi to discuss the prevailing health crisis in the country.
However, the Quint, which has a habit of peddling outright lies has yet again caught pants down by openly peddling misinformation to create panic in the society at a time when there is already enough fear among the public following the outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus in the country.