A news clip claiming that schools across the nation will be shut down from December 20 has gone viral on TikTok. Newschecker found that the video, showing schools and students, overlaid with an old audio clip, is being shared on social media to mislead users.
One TikTok user, yangeshdevkota (Sandesh Devkota), posted the video On December 19 that claimed, “Schools across the country will be shut down. The Ministry of Health and Population has recommended the government to close the schools in view of the sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.” Texts superimposed on the video read, “Schools will be shut down from tomorrow. This notice is for everyone.”
The viral video has garnered 79.1k likes and 1998 shares.
Another TikTok user dangithakur12 posted a similar video showing school premises, with the same audio clip. Text superimposed on the video read, “Sad news for the students.” The video, liked 35.7k times and commented by 850 people, was shared 295 times until the time of publishing this article.
TikTok users have been sharing similar videos using the same audio clip amid global concerns over the spread of a new strain of Coronavirus. Looking at the number of shares and engagements on the videos, we decided to do a fact check of the TikTok videos.
Fact Check /Verification
To check the authenticity of the claim made by the video, Newschecker began by searching for the original audio. We found the original audio in a video posted by the TikTok account of Artha Sarokar, popular online media of Nepal. The viral audio claiming that “schools will be shut down” can be found in a video posted by Artha Sarokar on April 9, 2021.
Using this as a clue from the date of the original video, we searched the archive of The Kathmandu Post, Nepal’s leading English language national daily, and found a report published on April 10, 2021 regarding the Health Ministry’s recommendation for school closure. A few days later in a news report published on April 13, 2021, The Himalayan Times had quoted the then Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi that “the ministry had recommended the Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) for shutting down the schools for a month in view of the increasing cases of coronavirus infection.”
Spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population, Sangita Mishra on December 20 confirmed that the Ministry of Education has not recommended the Education Ministry to shut down schools. But the ministry has issued a public notice warning the people to stay cautious and adopt preventive measures to stay safe from the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Nepal on December 6 had confirmed the detection of its first two cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus. But the Health Ministry said both the Omicron infected people have recovered.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on November 26 classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a SARS-CoV-2 “variant of concern,” saying the new variant now designated as omicron may spread more quickly than other forms.
The viral video claiming the schools will be shut down from December 22 in view of the rising cases of coronavirus was shared out of context by using an old audio clip of April, 2021.