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India: Police's 'fake Covid patient' prank for pandemic awareness

Web Report/Chennai
Filed on May 21, 2021
Image: Twitter

The prank was done to make people realise the seriousness of the disease.


Police across India are busy ensuring that citizens follow the strict rules relating to Covid-19, wearing masks and not venturing out unnecessarily. So what do they do when someone breaks the rules? Run after the person, chase him on the roads, nab him and ‘beat’ him up and finally take him to a hospital.

The police in Kodaikanal, the popular hill station in Tamil Nadu, did exactly that. But the man they were chasing was not really breaking the rules. He was part of “a prank for pandemic awareness,” making people realise the importance of following the norms. “Covid-19 infected persons might be alongside you; they can be near you in provisional stores, PDS shops. Do not provide a lift to any random person and do not ask anyone for a lift. Only one person should go in a bike,” the police were seen informing the public.

Athmanathan, the police superintendent for Kodaikanal, told the media that the prank was done to make people realise the seriousness of the disease. Despite various awareness campaigns, people failed to adhere to the protocols issued by the government, he said. “For purchasing groceries, four persons from the same family are coming,” he pointed out. “They say they are feeling bored and hence they are coming out.”

On Monday, for instance, a large number of people gathered in the markets and there was no social distancing, he said. Some were wearing the masks below the nose. “They do not bother who is near them, is he wearing a mask, or maintaining distance,” said Athmanathan. “But it was only after seeing this person, disguised as a Covid-19 patient, they got scared. After we informed them that it was a prank, they were relieved.”

Of course, some people opposed the move as they felt it would create a stigma against those suffering from Covid-19. “People who are infected will be seen with fear even after they recover,” said Dr C. Pannerselvam, a psychiatrist in Tirunelveli. “Their family members will also be affected because of this. It will further restrict people from reporting if they are infected with Covid. It affects the mental health of a person.”





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