Politics and Nation

April Fools' Day: You may end up in jail if you joke about coronavirus!

​April Fools' Day pranks? Be careful!Getty Images
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​April Fools' Day pranks? Be careful!
From Thailand to India, countries have told people not to make April Fools' Day pranks related to coronavirus, with some threatening jail time as they seek to prevent the spread of rumours which could put lives at risk.
​No 'April Fools' tradition' for GoogleGetty Images
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​No 'April Fools' tradition' for Google
Tech giant Google, which is famous for its annual spoofs, has cancelled the tradition because of the pandemic which has killed about 40,000 people worldwide.

Google said it had suspended its annual April Fools' tradition "out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic".

"Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let's save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one," it said in an internal email to staff.
​ThailandGetty Images
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​Thailand
Thailand said that April Fool's Day jokes about the virus could be punished under a law carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison.

"It's against the law to fake having COVID-19 this April Fools' Day," the government said.
​TaiwanGetty Images
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​Taiwan
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen took to Facebook to tell people not to prank about the virus, adding that anyone spreading rumours or false information could face up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to NT$3 million ($99,200).
​IndiaGetty Images
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​India
In India, Maharashtra state's cyber security unit said it would take legal action against anyone spreading fake news on April Fools' Day.

"The state govt won't allow anyone to spread rumours/panic on #Corona," Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted, adding that he had instructed the authorities to "act swiftly & strongly (against) such miscreants".
​Corona is no jokeGetty Images
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​Corona is no joke
Under the heading "Corona is no joke", Germany's health ministry also urged the public not to make up stories related to the virus.

With people relying on the internet and media for vital information about coronavirus, there are fears that jokes could fan the spread of misinformation.
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