Even as Nepal records an all-time high of daily COVID-19 infections, videos claiming that the Health Ministry has recommended enforcing lockdown for at least four weeks to curb the spike in coronavirus cases is going viral on TikTok. Newschecker found that two old news clips were used out of context to spread misinformation as the country grapples with the third wave of the pandemic.
Nepal on Friday (January 21) confirmed 10,703 new COVID-19 cases, out of 23,092 people tested for the virus. The country, on January 20, recorded the highest daily news cases of 12,338, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Population. When Nepal was hit by the Delta variant in May 2021, the highest reported spike in daily cases was 9,300.
TikTok user @Lollipopprince posted a new clip video, on January 18, which says , “The Ministry of Health and Population has recommended enforcing four-week lockdown citing that the number of Covid-19 cases are spiralling out of control; Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) has presented the proposal before the Prime Minister; general public against lockdown.” The video caption reads, “Boo! Yet another lockdown is going to be in place.”
The post has spread like a wildfire in social media, gaining 63.8k likes. The post has been shared by 1,805 people and 509 people have commented on it.
Another TikTok user apsarakhadkak4 (Apsara Khadka) posted a video with the same audio clip. Text superimposed on the video reads, “Finally, Nepal is heading for yet another lockdown for four weeks. There will surely be a lockdown as the government itself has advised. Please make arrangements for your food stock.”
The video has been liked by 33k people, shared 376 times until we published this report. We found many TikTok users have many videos using the same audio.
Fact Check /Verification
To check the authenticity of the claim made in the viral video, Newchecker checked for the latest government decision on restrictions enforced to control the spread of the coronavirus. We found a report published in the Kathmandu Post that a meeting of the chief district officers of the Valley—Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur—on Thursday decided to implement an odd-even rule for vehicles from January 21. Vehicles with even registration numbers will be allowed to ply on dates which are numerically even and vice versa,. However, some vehicles deemed emergency services, such as ambulances, or those carrying essentials like medicines, vegetables, milk and petroleum products, among others, have been exempted from this rule.
However, no reports indicated that the government has recommended or taken any decision regarding imposing a complete lockdown.
On scrutinising the viral video further, we noticed the logo of News24 Television. Newschecker looked up the YouTube channel of News24 Television to check the old videos when the government imposed a lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus ahead of the arrival of the second wave of Covid-19 in Nepal last year.
Looking at the visuals, we could discern that the original video was from the popular news bulletin of the television channel ‘Morning News Fatafat’. Our search further led us to a video indistinguishable from the viral video. The video was posted on the YouTube Channel of News24 TV on April 25, 2021 when the Covid-19 cases were surging during the second wave.
Despite the spike in the number of Covid-19 infections, Nepal government has only taken precautionary control measures, but has not taken any decision to impose a blanket lockdown. An old video from April 2021 shared out of context is going viral now.