New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) has debunked a claim on social media that Chinese goods imported for Holi in India should be avoided because they are infected with novel coronavirus
The WHO clarification came after a post in Hindi along with a photo of a purported advisory from the Union Health Ministry on preventing coronavirus went viral on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. The post had first surfaced on Facebook on February 16.
The English translation of the post reads: “The festival of Holi will be celebrated on March 10, in which China-made items like toy guns, colours, face masks and artificial hair are used heavily. Today, hundreds of thousands of Chinese are affected by Coronavirus. In India, only a couple of cases have been found and in view of Holi, please boycott these Chinese items to safeguard your family and children. Please tell local dealers to avoid buying these items from China. Stay alert, share this message widely and make it viral across India.”
“This claim is misleading,” Surpiya Bezbaruah, WHO’s representative for India, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Bezbaruah clarified that the virus does not last long on surfaces of objects, so it is unlikely that imported goods would remain infectious on arrival to India.
“Research as far as we know seems to indicate that the virus does not survive for very long on objects. For toys, the risk is only if the toy is contaminated with the virus and for the toy to be contaminated there are special conditions. So it is very unlikely that a toy will be contaminated with the virus simply because it was manufactured in China,” she added.
WHO has also issued a similar advisory on its website, stating that it is “safe” to receive goods from China.
“People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From the previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages,” the statement reads.