COVID-19 fact-Check unit begins operation on Thursday

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) A COVID-19 Fact Check Unit (FCU) on Thursday started its operations to provide an official version of any news on the deadly pandemic to avoid panic created by fake news.

The FCU unit has been constituted in the Press Information Bureau (PIB) under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

“The unit will receive messages by email at to send responses in a defined time-frame. The official version of any news on COVID-19 can be obtained from the Unit,” a government statement said.

The unit is headed by Nitin Wakankar, Director General, PIB.

The unit was constituted a day after the Centre announced that it would create a web portal where people can verify facts and unverified news promptly, and it could also advise the states and Union Territories (UTs) to create a similar mechanism.

States and the UTs were informed through a letter issued from the office of Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla earlier on Wednesday. In the letter, the states and the UTs were asked to submit an action taken report to the Ministry of Home Affairs so it can be conveyed to the Supreme Court hearing plea on the panic created by fake news leading to mass movement of migrant labourers.

The Ministry has told the states and the UTs that the report will be submitted to the apex court on April 7, the next date of hearing.

The states were also told that the apex court has expressed satisfaction with the proactive and timely actions taken by the Central government for preventing the spread of coronavirus. However, it took serious note of the panic created by fake news leading to mass movement of labourers.

The court has also given directions on taking effective measures to check circulation of the fake news. The Supreme Court, while taking up a writ petition, had sought a status report on the steps taken by the Central government which had filed a detailed status report on March 31.