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Chicken sales drop 50% over false coronavirus rumours on social media: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 28, 2020

Indian poultry sales have declined by over 50 per cent due to a false rumour that the coronavirus can be contracted through chickens being circulated on social media, said Godrej Agrovet Ltd, diversified agri-business firm, to Reuters on Thursday.

B.S. Yadav, Managing Director, Godrej Agrovet said that misinformation spread through platforms like WhatsApp regarding the role of poultry in the spread of the novel coronavirus has taken a toll on the sector with sales declining by more than 50 per cent. Other major poultry firms including Venky’s have also registered a fall in sales citing social media rumours, as per the report.

False rumours of chicken being infected with coronavirus have spread across social media platforms like WhatsApp and YouTube, industry players had said in the previous report. This led to government intervention in which the Animal Husbandry Ministry had confirmed that poultry was not found to be involved in the transmission of coronavirus to humans in any report globally.

Sushant Rai, President of Karnataka Poultry Farmers & Breeders Association (KSFBA) had said that the “scaremongering” had majorly affected poultry farmers with consumption being down by about 30 per cent in the State.

States in the west also witnessed a major impact of these rumours. While the cost of production of chicken being approximately ₹80 kg prices had been slashed to ₹35-40 as per a previous report.

The poultry industry is valued at around ₹90,000 crore, employing more than four million people directly or indirectly.

According to experts, the COVID-19 had originated in bats possibly having been passed to humans via an intermediary animal species.

Steps to curb the rumours

Social media giants -- Facebook and Twitter had announced in January that they would be drawing out detailed plans to curb misinformation regarding the coronavirus on their platforms.

The death toll of the COVID-19 outbreak has surpassed 2,700 in China. More than 78,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported so far. Eight new countries have reported their first case of the coronavirus on Thursday, as per media reports.

Published on February 28, 2020

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