According to a letter seen by Reuters on Friday, the Ministry of Information Technology of India has written to all social media companies asking them to delete any content involving the “Indian variant” of the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization stated on May 11 that the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus that was first discovered in India last year was listed as a variant of global concern.

A day later, the Indian government issued a statement saying that media reports of using the term “Indian variant” were baseless and claimed that the World Health Organization classified this variant as B.1.617.

In a letter to social media companies last Friday, the IT department asked these companies to “remove all content that titled or implied the “Indian variant” of the coronavirus.

“This is completely wrong. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not scientifically cited this variant of Covid-19. In either case, the WHO did not use the term “Indian variant” with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus. Link to its report”, this letter is not public.

A senior government source in India told Reuters that the notice was issued to send a “loud and clear” message, saying that this “Indian variant” argument spreads misunderstanding and damages the country’s image.

The IT department could not be reached for comment.

Worldwide, coronavirus variants have been collectively referred to by doctors and health experts based on the places they have been identified. This includes variants in South Africa and Brazil.

A social media executive stated that it will be difficult to delete all content using the term because there will be thousands of such posts, adding: “This move will lead to the continuous development of keyword-based censorship.”

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The Indian government is facing increasing criticism in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Modi and the state government have been accused of not fully planning the ongoing second coronavirus infection.

India is the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, with approximately 250,000 infections and 4,000 deaths reported every day.

Thomson Reuters 2021 ©

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