Hyderabad: Poultry businessess in several regions have been hit in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in India. Fake messages circulating on WhatsApp and other social media blaming poultry chicken for spreading the virus have caused alarm among several citizens, leading to a dip in the sale of chicken, alleged poultry associations.

Frustrated with the dwindling sales, the Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association in Maharashtra filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime police in Pune asking the police to take action against the fake messages. In their letter, the association said, “Because of the fake message from a few people on Whatsapp and Facebook, people have stopped buying chicken and eggs. Because of this, consumption has dropped and our business is suffering heavy financial loss.”

Speaking to NewsMeter, C. Vasanth Kumar from Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association (Maharashtra) said, “There is a 10-15 per cent decline in the sales because there is a fear among people that chicken might infect them with the virus. We are showing people an advisory now which states this is not true, so now they have started buying.”

An official associated with Telangana poultry breeders association said, “With the spread of the fake messages, there has been a five per cent reduction in chicken prices due to less demand. But now the government has issued advisories so that sales are not affected.”

Earlier on February 5, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) had issued a statement against fake messages being circulated on Whatsapp and other social media. The statement said there was no scientific evidence to back this claim. Dr. P. Venkateshwar Reddy, the chief veterinary officer (retd) of GHMC, said, “In India, there is not a single case of any bird being found positive with Corona virus. The photos circulated are of birds that are affected by Ranikhet disease. Rumours surrounding Corona virus are heavily affecting the poultry and meat industry.”

The fake WhatsApp message in Hindi which has been doing the rounds on social media had gone viral. It stated that the deadly virus has been found in broiler chicken and appeals to people to stop consuming it.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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