COVID-19 Pandemic Pranks Off The Table On April Fools’ Day

File photo/ AFP

 

It may be the global day for pranks but with the world under assault from the deadly coronavirus pandemic many governments on Wednesday were warning against virus-themed April Fools’ jokes — some even threatening jail.

The April 1 tradition sees families, web users and corporations embrace practical jokes.

But few are in the mood as the global death toll mounts and billions remain under some form of lockdown.

One K-pop star who joked on Instagram that he had tested positive for coronavirus faced a backlash at home and abroad.

Jaejoong, a member of popular band JYJ — formerly TVXQ — said he had been infected and hospitalised.

Worried fans left countless messages wishing him a speedy recovery.

But about an hour later he updated the post, revealing it was a prank and adding he wanted to “raise awareness”.

“Although it may have been too much as an April Fools’ joke, a lot of people worried for me,” he wrote. “I’ll receive any punishment due to this post.”

Many, including his own fans, lambasted the post, calling it inappropriate and not funny.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus Crisis Forces UK Banks To Axe Billions In Payouts

“Please have some respect. People out there are suffering,” wrote one fan.

– Threats of jail –

The coronavirus outbreak has already been accompanied by a deluge of online misinformation, making it harder for governments to keep their citizens safe.

Some are now threatening jail for virus pranks.

Taiwan, which has been held up as a model for how to tackle an outbreak, warned people who spread false rumours that they faced up to three years in jail and a TW$3 million fine ($100,000).

“On April Fools’ Day we can exercise our sense of humour if we have to but we can’t make jokes on the pandemic to avoid breaking the law,” President Tsai Ing-wen posted on Facebook alongside a photo of one of her cats.

“I wish everybody not only a humorous but also healthy and safe April Fools’ Day.”

Thailand was taking a similarly hard line, threatening up to five years in jail.

“It’s against the law to fake having COVID-19 this April Fools’ Day,” the government said on Twitter.

“There may be people who do not have good intentions… who may use April 1 or April Fools’ Day and assume they will not face legal action,” Krissana Pattanacharoen, deputy national police spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday.

In India, where disinformation — especially on WhatsApp — remains a pervasive problem, politicians made similar appeals.

“The state govt won’t allow anyone to spread rumours/panic on #Corona,” tweeted Maharashtra state’s home minister Anil Deshmukh.

“We urge citizens to verify information and only share messages from trusted sources and not fall for fake news,” Pranay Ashok, a spokesman for Mumbai Police, told AFP, adding that anyone found spreading fake news would be prosecuted.

Many well-known brands with a prior track record of jumping on the annual bandwagon were steering clear of the tradition this year.

Google, a company renowned for its elaborate annual stunts, told its employees it would “take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to an internal email obtained by Business Insider.

James Herring, from London-based PR agency Taylor Herring, had the following warning.

“Tip for any PR agencies planning an April Fools Day stunt,” he wrote last week on Twitter. “Just. Don’t.”‘

AFP

Anthonia Orji

Disqus Comments Loading...

Recent Posts

  • Coronavirus
  • Local

COVID-19: Buhari’s Daughter Returns From Isolation, Reunites With Family

    One of the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari has reunited with her family after she returned from isolation.…

9 mins ago
  • Coronavirus
  • Headlines

BREAKING: Nigeria’s COVID-19 Cases Rise To 184 As NCDC Confirms 10 New Infections

    Ten new people have tested positive to coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in…

2 hours ago
  • Coronavirus
  • Local

UCH CMD Recovers From Coronavirus, Tests Negative

    The Chief Medical Director (CMD) at the University College Hospital (UCH), Professor Jesse Otegbayo, has recovered from coronavirus…

2 hours ago
  • Coronavirus
  • Headlines

11 More COVID-19 Patients Discharged In Lagos, Says Sanwo-Olu

    Eleven more people have recovered from coronavirus (COVID-19) and have been discharged in Lagos State. This brings the…

3 hours ago
  • Coronavirus
  • Local

Coronavirus: We Must Tolerate And Allow People To Vent Their Opinions – Keyamo

    The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), has asked that individuals be allowed to…

3 hours ago
  • Coronavirus
  • Headlines

Nigeria Can Now Test 1,500 People A Day For COVID-19, Says Health Minister

    The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says Nigeria now has the capacity to test 1,500 people a…

3 hours ago