India is faced with a new challenge, the second wave of COVID-19 that is spiking new cases at a rate much higher than last year. A sense of deja vu has taken over the country as hospitals are running short of ICU beds, oxygen tanks and states are entering lockdown-style curfews to break the chain of COVID-19. Amidst all this chaos, a group of anti-maskers are spreading false information about face masks being ineffective.

But things escalated after a video of a public hoarding displaying messages about the ineffectiveness of face masks and why people must ditch them has gone viral.

The claim

A video showing an electronic board projecting many anti-mask messages and COVID conspiracy slogans has gone viral in India. Widely circulated in local WhatsApp groups, the video is accompanied with some context, which suggests the electronic board was displayed in India and people are led to believe that COVID is a hoax and face masks are totally ineffective.

False messages displayed on hoardings

The signs in the video read: "End the lockdown", "Take off your masks" and "RTE is the Virus." It also claims, "Masks spread germs," "COVID tests are fraudulent," "Up to 95% of COVID tests are false positives," "Vaccine has significant side effects," "COVID is a psychological operation to collapse the world economy," and "top scientists refuse to vaccinate their children."

Amid the rise of similar conspiracies in India, people are believing that these messages might be true.

Fact check

International Business Times reviewed the viral video being circulated in various WhatsApp groups and found not just the claims to be inaccurate, but also the location of the signboard being India to be false.

False messages displayed on hoardings

The biggest clue is in the video itself, as the background of the signboard reads Templeogue, which is in Ireland. A simple web search brings up local news reports about the said signage in Templeogue, which was condemned by locals. The video is also old, and the anti-face mask messages were displayed in Templeogue in January.

As for the messages shown in the video, all of them are false and baseless. Millions of people are infected by COVID-19 and since last year, many have even lost their lives. Wearing face masks in public is mandatory to avoid spread of the virus and vaccines are our biggest hope to end the pandemic. There is no science to support that face masks are ineffective or carry germs and that vaccine has significant side effects.

Claim reviewed :

Fact check: Viral public hoarding asking people to ditch face masks not in India

Fact Check :