Over the past week, health authorities have been actively debunking false news and misinformation on social media in an attempt to prevent public panic about the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak
In the midst of misinformation being spread, an individual suspected of spreading false news about the virus was arrested
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that they arrested a 34-year-old man in Bangi, Selangor at 4pm yesterday, 28 January, to aid in investigations over a Facebook post that went up on 26 January.
Investigators also seized a mobile phone and SIM card that were believed to have been used to make the fake viral post about the virus.
The suspect is being investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or jail term of not more than one year, or both
"The stern action is among efforts by the MCMC and Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) to control the spread of false news on the novel coronavirus by irresponsible individuals, which could jeopardise national stability and public peace," said the commission.
Malay Mail reported that law enforcement authorities were pursuing three other people over similar offences.
Meanwhile, MOH has compiled a list of the several fake messages that have been circulating in the country in a bid to stop the false alarm
Below are the messages identified and discredited by the Ministry of Health:
- The first Wuhan virus suspect in Malaysia was admitted to Hospital Tuanku Jaafar, Seremban.
- A coronavirus patient was sent to KPJ Seremban Specialist Hospital.
- The first cases of 2019-nCoV found in Hospital Seberang Jaya, Penang were two Chinese nationals.
- A father of a student from Sekolah Kebangsaan Paka in Terengganu became ill with the Wuhan virus three days after coming back from umrah.
- There was a patient with Wuhan virus in International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Hospital in Kuantan.
- A seven-year-old was found to be coronavirus positive in Hospital Likas, Sabah.
- A list of areas in Selangor with virus outbreaks which also accused the government of claiming they were virus-free.
- A Chinese tourist infected with the virus was staying at Tropicana 218 Macalister Apartment in Penang.
- A citizen of "Wong Tong", China suspected to be infected with coronavirus was in Ayer Keroh Polyclinic in Melaka.
- A picture of the virus under a high-powered microscope.
- Five individuals who just got back from Wuhan suspected with coronavirus were being quarantined in Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah in Kuala Terengganu.
- Some died after fainting and having a seizure due to the Wuhan virus in Shah Alam, Selangor.
- A few pictures showing hundreds of Chinese tourists arriving in Langkawi to escape the outbreak.
- Mahkota Medical Centre in Melaka was closed due to a death from the coronavirus.
- The first case of the virus was found in a private hospital in Kuantan, Pahang.