While the world struggles to combat the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, it was expected that the mainstream media at least now would set aside their political partisanship and strive hard to cover the events objectively. However, that hasn’t been the case yet and it appears that things are unlikely to improve anytime soon. Even as Wuhan Coronavirus poses a severe threat to the safety and security of the country, journalists continue to engage in fearmongering and rumour-mongering to undermine the efforts being made by the central and state governments.
On Monday, Kanwardeep Singh, a journalist with Times of India, shared a video of Uttar Pradesh Police spraying people with disinfectants in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. He suggested that the people were being showered with toxic chemical substances that could potentially kill them. He said, “Who r u trying to kill, Corona or humans? Migrant labourers and their families were forced to take bath in chemical solution upon their entry in Bareilly.”
In the video, it could be seen that people wearing hazmat suits were spraying disinfectant on the migrant labourers who had returned to Uttar Pradesh from elsewhere. The objective of the disinfectants is to kill the virus if it were present in the clothes of the individuals. The disinfectant does not harm people as such. However, the journalist with Times of India gave the impression that the authorities were jeopardizing the health of the migrant labourers.
A casual glimpse through the internet provides numerous pictures from abroad where authorities use a similar procedure for people arriving from elsewhere. One such photo shared in a Reuters report from the 2nd of February shows medical officers spray Indonesian nationals arriving from Wuhan in China, the epicentre of the pandemic, with the antiseptic spray.
China has constructed ‘disinfectant tunnels‘ for people to walk through which supposedly kills 99% of the viruses. It’s part of China’s wide-ranged efforts towards combating the crisis within its own territory. The tunnels apparently sanitize people within 2 seconds. The tunnels are equipped with infrared detectors that activate the spray when a person walks in.
There are also other images available on the internet from other countries such as Philippines where antiseptic solution is sprayed on crowded places with people present in order to disinfect the environment. These solutions, quite obviously, pose no threat to the health of people.
In fact, closer home in India, too, disinfectants were sprayed on people.
Kerala fire and rescue officials spraying disinfectants on people who came from across the border. Incident happened in Wayanad, along the Kerala-Karnataka border on March 23. This is clearly not happening in UP alone. pic.twitter.com/5pHBkKJbSh— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) March 30, 2020
The tweet by the Times of India journalist is quite clearly directed towards inducing panic among people and inspire in them a distrust towards the authorities. In times of a pandemic, it is essential that citizens do not start doubting necessary tasks being carried out by the authorities. However, the journalist in his infinite wisdom appears to believe that now is a good time to engage in rumour-mongering and thereby, jeopardize the safety and security of millions of people.
After the video went viral on social media, Bareilly District Magistrate took to Twitter to clarify that the administration was asked to disinfect buses but ended up using the same on passengers as well.
इस वीडियो की पड़ताल की गई, प्रभावित लोगों का सीएमओ के निर्देशन में उपचार किया जा रहा है। बरेली नगर निगम एवं फायर ब्रिगेड की टीम को बसों को सैनेटाइज़ करने के निर्देश थे, पर अति सक्रियता के चलते उन्होंने ऐसा कर दिया। सम्बंधित के विरुद्ध कार्रवाई के निर्देश दिए गए हैं। https://t.co/y8TmuCNyu5— District Magistrate (@dmbareilly) March 30, 2020
An ‘action’ against those responsible has been ordered by the DM. It is still not clear if the ‘action’ has been ordered by DM due to apparent ‘demeaning’ step of making them squat on ground, or whether the chemicals were inappropriate, because that doesn’t appear to be the case. He further clarified that such mass disinfecting method is being used worldwide.
हालांकि मास सैनिटाइजेशन का यह तरीका दुनिया के कई देशों में अपनाया जा रहा है। इसे करते वक्त और सावधानी बरती जानी चाहिए थी और सुरक्षा का ध्यान रखना चाहिए था जिससे लोगों को परेशानी महसूस नहीं होती।— District Magistrate (@dmbareilly) March 30, 2020
“However, while carrying it out, we should have taken care of safety and made sure people are not inconvenienced,” he tweeted.