‘Don’t be a fool this April Fools’ Day’: Gov’t agencies warn public against fake news and COVID-19 jokes

April 1, 2020 - 6:32 PM
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April 1
Stock photo of a woman holding a calendar. (Pexels/ Brooke Lark)

A number of government agencies warned the public against sharing of fake news and tasteless jokes about the novel coronavirus in light of April Fools’ Day which is celebrated on April 1.

The Department of Health reminded Filipinos to be vigilant about the information shared online and on messaging platforms since they could be “fake news.”

“DON’T BE A FOOL THIS APRIL FOOLS’ DAY. Tayo’y maging responsable sa ating i-popost ngayong araw at ‘wag nang magpakalat ng mga maling balita at impormasyon tungkol sa COVID-19!” the agency said on its Facebook page.

It also urged the public to only follow official channels such as its Viber community that releases updates on COVID-19 and the government’s measures related to the pandemic and the enhanced community quarantine.

DON'T BE A FOOL THIS APRIL FOOLS' DAY. Tayo'y maging responsable sa ating i-popost ngayong araw at wag nang magpakalat…

Posted by Department of Health (Philippines) on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

 

“Imbes na mag-post ng fake news ay mag-share na lamang ng fact checked posts ng DOH!” the agency added.

Ever since the pandemic emerged, several claims and myths on COVID-19 have circulated online and through messaging platforms, mostly about its supposed treatment and cures.

Some of these include gargling with warm salt water, eating bananas—which presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo believed—and being injected with vaccines for pneumonia, among others.

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila also warned people who would attempt to joke or pull pranks related to the virus.

“Ngayon ay ‘April Fool’s Day’ ngunit hindi biro ang sitwasyong pinagdadaanan natin ngayon. Huwag mag biro tungkol sa pandemya ng COVID-19,” the agency said on its Facebook page.

Ngayon ay "April Fool's Day" ngunit hindi biro ang sitwasyong pinagdadaanan natin ngayon. Huwag mag biro tungkol sa pandemya ng COVID19. #BagongMaynila#EndCovid19

Posted by Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

 

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto similarly warned Filipinos on Tuesday that individuals who would attempt to joke or pull a prank about COVID-19 will be punished.

“Ang mag-April Fools joke tungkol sa COVID, ipapasok sa isolation facility ng 14 days,” he warned in jest.

Sotto’s remark was in support of a science organization’s post that advised against making light of the viral disease that has killed more than 42,000 people globally.

Science organization Earth Shake Philippines previously shared the following on Twitter:

“REMINDER: Tomorrow is ‘April Fool’s Day,’ but never prank anyone that you’re #COVID19 positive. It will never be a good joke!”

What’s with April 1? 

April 1 is traditionally known as April Fools’ Day which is a big deal in the United States and other Western countries. However, the reason why it is celebrated remains unclear.

TIME Magazine reports that it could be a possible precedent to an ancient Greco-Roman festival called “Hilaria” which was celebrated on March 25 in the olden days.

The magazine said that the festival honored Cybele, an ancient Greek Mother of Gods, and part of its celebration included parades, masquerades and jokes to celebrate the first day after the vernal equinox or the official start of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Simon Bronner, a professor of American Studies and Folklore at Penn State, said that the vernal equinox was traditionally “thought of the year as the beginning of the year in the Julian calendar.”

“In the 16th century, the Christian world switched from the Julian calendar, which was introduced by Julius Caesar, to the Gregorian calendar named for Pope Gregory XIII. The change moved the New Year up to January 1,” TIME further reported.

“Some historians find another origin for April Fools in that switch, as those still using the Julian calendar were fooled by the new date,” it continued.