As the count of COVID19 infected patients gradually increases in Sri Lanka as of 03rd April, 4 deaths have occurred and alongside there has been a steady rise in misinformation on social media. Despite Senior DIG Ajith Rohana and other key government officials continuously stressing on importance of being responsible citizens by not sharing unverified content, yet fake WhatsApp group forwards have continued to rise.
A post with a statement allegedly of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is circulating widely on social media platforms and messaging platforms in Sri Lanka. The post carries 10 suggestions / points.
The entire statement is as follows.
“Dear All. I am forwarding this message purported to be from HE President Gotabaya. Seems sensible enough…
To overcome the present serious calamity & to face the future challenges, we as citizens will have to make some hard decisions with determination.
It is of utmost importance first to ask ourselves what we could offer our Nation & the government at this time rather than complaining about the responsibility of the government towards us.
1. To follow all instructions from the government, health sector & the defense sector as disciplined & law abiding citizens. Let us remember that this is all for our own good.
2. The most valuable resource we have at the moment is TIME. We should manage & utilize this efficiently & effectively.
3. Forward all valuable suggestions & proposals to the government which you may think will help the authorities in the present crisis.
4. Make every effort to reduce the consumption of food during the next 2-3 weeks by foregoing at least one meal a day, reduce the quantity, variety & avoid waste. Eat easily accessible food such as jackfruit, breadfruit, yams & green leaves.
5. Restore & strengthen family relationships. Together clean your home & the environment especially to avoid a dengue outbreak in the coming rainy season. Use the most effective Japanese 5S method to clean the house. Use the internet for detailed information.
6. Encourage & help the children with their studies. As a family discuss & help the children to be better citizens in the future.
7. Prepare a home garden to grow vegetables and fruits to avoid a possible food shortage ahead.
8. Plan & strategize to face personal, economical & social difficulties ahead. It’s going to be a difficult time ahead so plan now.
E.g. Managing your finances, cutting down on expenses, spending only on essential needs etc.
9. Refrain from anti-social activities that affect you, your family & the society. Invest the savings on your family.
10. Leave aside caste, religious & ethnic differences & come together as Sri Lankans. Unite, stand together to build our beloved Nation.
Please share this with others.
Below is a screenshot of such a claim circulating via messaging platforms.
Below is a screenshot of such a claim published by a Facebook user.
|Facebook Link||Archived Link|
We did a “Google news” search to confirm whether any main stream media had published the bulletin supposed to be a statement made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. We couldn’t find any news or report from international or local media sources regarding such a statement.
To further investigate, we browsed the President Media Division website and were unable to find any recent press release of such a statement either.
We also checked President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official Facebook page and notice a post stating that all President’s messages and announcement are only published through official channels only. Below is the English version of the message.
“During this crisis, there are messages purporting to be from me, being shared on social media and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber, FB messenger etc. Please note all messages and announcements from me are only published through official channels”.
|Facebook Post Link||Archived Link|
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official Twitter account had also carried a Tweet stating to beware of fake news & messages being circulated under President’s name via messenger platforms.
“Beware of fake news & messages being circulated under my name via messenger platforms. Any announcement or message will be published only through official channels of Presidents Media Div & verified Facebook & Twitter accounts” #FakeNewsAlert.
|Twitter Post Link||Archived Link|
We contacted the President’s Media Division as well and they confirmed while most of these were positive points in general, however President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had never published such a statement and has never mentioned about “foregoing at least one meal a day”
There was a similar wave of positive message shared soon after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assumed duties back in November 2019 as well
|Gotabaya Rajapaksa Official FB||Archived Link|
From our investigation, it is clear that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has NOT issued any ten-point directive, to be followed by Sri Lankans during Coronavirus outbreak.
Hence the viral bulleting purported to be of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s is false.
Title:No. President has not issued 10-point bulletin for citizen to follow during COVID19 epidemicFact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe