A student from the western Indian state of Gujarat was found spreading fake news about a COVID outbreak in her school to avoid taking an exam in person.
Last week, a “news report” about 13 children testing positive after attending an exam at the Udgam School in the city of Ahmedabad began circulating on WhatsApp groups. This led school officials to investigate whether any students had coronavirus, before tracing the source of the viral message.
It turned out that that a high school student was responsible for circulating the false report. The student admitted that she had panicked after learning that her school would be conducting in-person exams, and spread the news in an attempt to convince her school to cancel the exam. The school’s authorities have decided not to file a police complaint against the student, who they say regrets her actions.
Last September, aspiring doctors and engineers across the country had protested offline entrance exams by spamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s YouTube with dislikes.
“There will be some form of anxiety, stress and pressure that students, especially adolescents, will feel while making this transition from online classes, where they had more freedom, to being back under the scrutiny of their teachers,” Hvovi Bhagwagar, a counselling psychologist, told VICE World News. “The transition from home to school or work will be a more difficult transition than getting used to work from home.”
The case in India is only the latest reported incident of people in various countries using COVID as an excuse or alibi to dupe others. Last December, a Georgia man was charged with fraud after he pretended he had tested positive for coronavirus to skip work. A man in South Carolina temporarily closed down his office last March, after falsely claiming that he was COVID positive.
Last February, an air traveller suggested that he was infected with COVID, leading the plane to make an emergency landing. The man pulled off a prank to go viral on social media. Another man pulled off the same prank on a metro in Moscow, pretending to collapse due to COVID in an attempt to go viral. He was sentenced to five years in jail.