At a time when the government is urging the public to adopt safety protocols amid the rising fear of a new Covid wave in the country, a viral video is doing the rounds claiming that the health ministry has announced the shut down of schools across the country. Newschecker found the viral clip to be old and shared with a missing context.
Health Ministry Urges COVID Appropriate Behaviour
Taking into account the spike in Covid-19 infections in neighbouring countries, the Ministry has urged people to adopt preventive measures such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance and taking booster jabs. The Ministry of Health and Population on December 21 confirmed that at least 17 different sub variants of coronavirus have been circulating in Nepal after conducting a whole-genome sequencing.
Social Media Rife With Unverified Claims
In this context, many users are sharing unsubstantiated claims. TikTok user @tis_me_prasant25 was among those who posted a video showing visuals from a college, with text superimposed on the video that reading, “Exams of class 10/12 won’t be held. The decision was taken after 50,000 infections were recorded in a day in Nepal.”
The voice-over accompanying the video says, “Schools across the country will be shut down. The Ministry of Health recommended shutting down schools after the increasing risk of COVID-19 infection. From now onwards, the classes will be conducted online and the physical classes will be completely stopped.” The video caption reads, “It has just been announced that the exams of class 10 and 12 will be called off. Students can pass exams through online exams like earlier.”
The video posted on January 2 has garnered 7034 likes, 132 users have commented and 246 people have shared it until the last count.
Fact Check /Verification
To check the authenticity of the claim made in the viral video, Newschecker looked up the latest data on Covid-19 infection rates posted by the Health Ministry on its verified social media pages. We found that on January 6, two new cases were detected in the last 24 hours in Nepal, when 783 samples were tested.
We then checked for the latest statement by the Health Ministry regarding Covid regulations, and found a statement issued on December 24. In the statement, the Ministry confirmed that the new variant BF.7 spreading in the neighbouring country has not been spotted yet in Nepal. The ministry informed that surveillance measures have stepped up at entry points to Nepal including airports. However, we didn’t find any recommendation to shut down schools and colleges and run classes online.
On closely analysing the viral clip, we noticed that the audio was familiar, prompting us to check the original audio. We found that the audio was first posted by the TikTok account of Artha Sarokar , a popular business news portal, on April 9, 2021 indicating that this was the same audio that we had debunked earlier on multiple instances which can be seen here, here, and here.
Using this as a clue, we searched for the news regarding the government recommendation for shutting down school. We found a news article published in The Kathmandu Post online on April 10, 2021 regarding the Health Ministry’s recommendation for school closure.
Our findings clearly indicated that an old news clip of Artha Sarokar online is being reshared in a misleading manner.
The viral news clip about the government recommendation to shut down schools in view of rapid increase in coronavirus infections is old news clip and shared with a missing context.