As a new round of cases test COVID-19 positive in Malaysia, it seems that misinformation about the novel coronavirus is spreading more rapidly than the disease itself
The Ministry of Health (MOH) took to social media yesterday, 2 March, to warn the public about the new wave of fake news that has been circulating recently.
"Stop sharing fake news. This is causing confusion and making it difficult for MOH to convey real information to the public," it said.
"Your concern is not an excuse to spread fake news. If you are unsure with the news you have received, stop sharing."
Along with the warning, MOH shared screenshots of the fake messages that they think should be stopped from spreading on WhatsApp
Here are the messages that have been identified and discredited by MOH and health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah via Bernama:
- A warning of a Wuhan resident hiding in New Shanghai Massage shop in Sitiawan, Perak,
- The Sarawak health department looking for a COVID-19 case on an AirAsia flight,
- A warning about a group of people who came back from Italy went to a Tesco in Puchong,
- The shutting down of KL Sentral because some maintenance workers tested positive, and
- A warning to avoid Bangsar because Dr Sanjiv from Pantai Hospital was exposed to a COVID-19 patient.
Dr Noor Hisham has also since said that he never issued a statement about staying away from Bangsar for 10 days as alleged in the viral message
Bernama reported that the message had inaccurately quoted him as he had only praised Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur's consultant cardiologist Datuk Dr Sanjiv Joshi, who voluntarily distanced himself from the hospital, clinic, and his family for 14 days, despite testing negative for the disease.
"We should applaud doctors like Dr Sanjiv who voluntary distanced himself from hospital, clinic and his family for 14 days. He was treating case 29 who later tested positive for COVID-19," wrote Dr Noor Hisham on his personal Facebook account yesterday, 2 March.
"Despite being tested negative, he continues to self-quarantine during the incubation period as prevention is better than cure. I hope those close contacts will emulate his self action to do what is right."