It may be a global day for pranks but this year it is not as adventurous as it used to. The world under the assault from deadly COVID-19 pandemic is not going to accept any kind of pranks. Many governments were warning against virus-themed pranks and jokes. Some countries have threatened jail if any kind of virus-related pranks were carried out.
The April 1 tradition sees friends, families, corporations and web users embrace practical jokes and pranks. Every year, this date marks a series of weird pranks carried out but due to ongoing coronavirus crisis all over the world, it is not the same.
But few people are in the mood as the death toll raises and billions are under lockdown.
One K-pop star Jaejoong joked on Instagram that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and hospitalised, faced a backlash at home and abroad. Worried fan wished him a speedy recovery and left countless messages. But an hour ago later he posted, revealing it was just a prank and adding he wanted to ‘raise awareness.’
He wrote “Although it may have been too much as an April Fool’s joke, a lot of people worried for me. I’ ll receive the punishment due to this post.”
Many people, including his own fans, lambasted his post, calling it not funny and inappropriate.
One of his fans wrote, “Please have some respect. People out there are suffering.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has already been accompanied by a lot of misinformation, making it difficult for the governments to ensure the safety of their citizens. Some governments are threatening jail for coronavirus related pranks.
Taiwan, which has been a model for tackling the outbreak, warned people about spreading false rumours and misinformation that they faced more than three years in jail and a TW$3 million fine ($100,000).
President Tsai Ing-wen posted on Facebook alongside a photo of her cat, “On April Fool’s Day we can exercise our sense of humour if we have to but we can’t make jokes on the pandemic to avoid breaking the law. I wish everybody not only a humorous but also healthy and safe April Fools’ Day.”
Thailand was also taking a similar hard-line, threatening people to face up to five years in jail.
The government said, “It’s against the law to fake having COVID-19 this April Fools’ Day.”
A deputy national police spokesman, Krissana Pattanacharoen said “There may be people who do not have good intentions… who may use April 1 or April Fools’ Day and assume they will not face legal action.”
In India, where misinformation is a pervasive problem, especially on WhatsApp, politicians made similar requests.
Maharashtra state’s home minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted, “The state govt won’t allow anyone to spread rumours/panic on #Corona,”
A spokesman from Mumbai Police, Pranay Ashok said: “We urge citizens to verify the information and only share messages from trusted sources and not fall for fake news.”
Many popular brands with a prior record of jumping on the annual bandwagon were leading clear of the tradition this year.
Google, a company known for its elaborate annual stunts, told employees it would “take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the internal email which is obtained by Business Insider.