Fact checking COVID-19 Facebook posts: Philippines, Sri Lanka aren’t killing coronavirus with aerial pesticide spraying

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Purported advisories urging residents to stay indoors while national air force helicopters spray disinfectant over homes to kill off the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, have been circulated online in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The warning messages have been shared thousands of times on Facebook and WhatsApp. But the claim is false; both the Sri Lankan and Philippine governments said their air forces were not involved in any such operations.

— Sri Lanka —

A purported advisory about the Sri Lankan Air Force’s plans to use helicopters to disinfect the country was published here on Facebook on March 24, 2020.

It has been shared more than 1,000 times.


Sri Lanka’s Government Information Department refuted the claims in a statement released on March 24, 2020.

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It states: “There is a false message circulating on social media that disinfectant will be sprayed by helicopters at 11.30 tonight to eradicate coronavirus and the Air Force Spokesperson notes that Sri Lanka Air Force is not involved in any such operation.”


— The Philippines —

[T]he Philippine Department of Health on March 21, 2020 denied the claim circulating online …. The Facebook statement reads, in part: “Circulating news on PESTICIDE SPRAYING by military helicopters all over the country after 12 midnight to combat COVID-19 is NOT TRUE.

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