To stop the spread of fake news and misinformation on Coronavirus amid Coronavirus lockdown, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on March 31, issued a stern warning to people to not share such posts as part of April Fool’s Day pranks, stating that it could trigger panic during the lockdown.

Deshmukh said, “The lockdown is in force to contain the coronavirus outbreak. I appeal to people not to spread any fake messages that can trigger panic among people,” in a pre-recorded video message (in Hindi).

“The Maharashtra cyber crime has been asked to step up and take strict action against those who post fake or misleading information on social media platforms,” Deshmukh added.

Aurangabad Police in the state too have warned people against spreading any rumours or playing pranks over coronavirus in the name of April Fools Day on social media.

Offences would be registered against the WhatsApp group admin and the member posting such messages on the mobile messaging app, Deputy Commissioner of Police Meena Makwana said in a release.

“Many people play pranks on their friends and relatives on April 1. Citizens have been asked not to play such pranks over coronavirus. Such messages may create confusion,” the official said.

“If such messages are found on WhatsApp, the person posting it and the group admin will be booked,” she said.

The WhatsApp group admins have been asked to make suitable changes in their groups (where only admins can post messages), the release added.

Maharashtra has recorded 230 positive cases of coronavirus, the highest in the country so far. Meanwhile, Mumbai is part of the ’emerging hotspots’ for Coronavirus.

India reported a total of 1251 cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. The government maintains there is no community transmission of the virus but is studying emerging hotspots, where there are several clusters of cases, where they will follow “rigorous surveillance”.

The 10 hotspots identified include Dilshad Garden and Nizamuddin in New Delhi, Noida, Meerut, Bhilwara, Ahmedabad, Kasargod, Pathanamthitta, Mumbai and Pune.