27 January 2020
The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cluster outbreak is not the only thing that is keeping the Ministry of Health (MOH) preoccupied right now.
Viral fake news, speculations and rumours relating to the matter have also been keeping the ministry busy.
Out of sheer frustration, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad pointed it out to the media: “We have two problems at hand … one is the virus, but the more pressing one is the viral fake news on the spread of the virus.”
An example of the misleading fact that Dzulkefly highlighted to the media was the accusations by many netizens that Malaysia is not serious in tackling the problem as is has yet to bar incoming tourists from China.
Dzulkefly pointed out Malaysia adheres to the International Health Regulation (IHR) 2005 and therefore any such action could only be taken based on the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The health minister said this after making a working visit to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2 in Sepang today.
Prior to this, the MOH had dismissed fake news that a prisoner had died after eating Mandarin oranges infected with the virus and that a Malaysian student who returned from Wuhan had been warded in Ipoh.
If that is not enough, a picture showing a plane full of China nationals arriving in Langkawi to escape the coronavirus back home had also gone viral over the social media, creating alarm and unnecessary trepidation.
However, the tour company that brought in the crowd denied the allegation saying they were just the tour agency’s passengers from Nanjing, China.
Even the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) today issued a warning that stern action will be taken against irresponsible parties who spread fake content or news or rumours on the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, China’s Xinhua News Agency said the republic’s health authorities today announced 80 deaths and 2,744 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, with 461 in critical conditions.
Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and seven other nearby cities remain in lockdown to stop the spread of the disease.
So far, the United States, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Japan Nepal, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam had also reported confirmed cases of the coronavirus but in limited numbers. – Bernama