Quelling False Rumours About The Wuhan Coronavirus
STORY: Janelle Yong
07 February 2020
In a Facebook post on 29 January, President Halimah Yacob encouraged Singaporeans “not to spread falsehoods, misperceptions and rumours which will cause confusion, panic and anger” regarding the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. With the excessive amount of information available online, it can be difficult to tell what should or shouldn’t be believed. Here are some rumours about the Wuhan coronavirus that you might have heard.
False rumour (dated Fri 7 Feb): A fake screengrab of a CNA tweet was circulated widely on social media saying that all schools, including polytechnics and universities, are to close next Monday (10 Feb) due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.
Clarification: This is untrue. The image appears to be a doctored screengrab of another tweet sent out by CNA.
False rumour (dated Fri 7 Feb): There has been a message circulating of a death in Singapore due to the nCoV virus.
Clarification: This is false. MOH has confirmed that there are currently no deaths due to the virus.
False rumour (dated Sat 1 Feb): There is a WhatsApp message circulating with a list of alleged places to avoid where suspected or confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection have been.
Clarification: This is false. There is no need to avoid these places, as the risk of infection from transient contact is low. There is also currently no evidence of community spread.
False rumour (dated Thurs 30 Jan): On 30 Jan 2020, a website called ‘City News’ published an article titled “BREAKING NEWS: Singapore records six more coronavirus case, total of 16 now” claiming that five Singaporeans have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus without going to China.
Clarification: This is not true. As of 9pm on 30 Jan 2020, there is no local transmission of the Wuhan virus in Singapore. All confirmed cases in Singapore to date are Chinese nationals who travelled from Wuhan.
False rumour (dated Thurs 30 Jan): The States Times Review Facebook page said that Senior Minister of State Dr Lam Pin Min had confirmed that Singapore had run out of face masks.
Clarification: This is false. Dr Lam stated clearly that there is sufficient supply of masks if people use them responsibly.
False rumour (dated Thurs 30 Jan): On 30 Jan 2020, an article on ‘City News’ claimed that five Singaporeans had contracted the virus without going to China.
Clarification: This is false. As of 9pm on 30 Jan 2020, there has been no community spread of the Wuhan virus in Singapore. All confirmed cases so far in Singapore are Chinese nationals from Hubei.
False rumour (dated Wed 29 Jan): Some have circulated falsehoods that quarantine allowances are given to tourists from Wuhan.
Clarification: This is not true. Quarantine allowances are not given to tourists. They are given to Singapore-based employers with employees under quarantine, and to self-employed Singaporeans/PRs under quarantine.
False rumour (dated Tue 28 Jan): Several Facebook posts on 28 Jan claimed that Woodlands MRT was closed due to a suspected case of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Clarification: This is not true. Woodlands MRT was fully operational.
False rumour (dated Sun 26 Jan): On 5.50pm on 26 Jan 2020, a Hardware Zone Forum post claimed that a 66-year-old man died in Singapore from a newly identified virus that caused him to develop severe pneumonia.
Clarification: As of 11pm on 26 Jan 2020, there have been no deaths among confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus infection.
False rumour (dated Sat 25 Jan): There is a rumour circulating online that an individual has died of the Wuhan coronavirus infection at a shopping mall in Singapore.
Clarification: MOH has clarified that there had been no deaths among suspect or confirmed cases.
False rumour (dated Sat 25 Jan): There have been rumours circulating online that over 100 arriving travellers from Wuhan were denied entry into Singapore.
Clarification: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has clarified that this is untrue and the alleged incident did not take place.
False rumour (dated Fri 24 Jan): A WhatsApp message and video told people to avoid Eastpoint Mall in Simei because the first suspected case had been reported there.
Clarification: The Ministry of Health (MOH) clarified that the patient, who was seen at the Raffles Medical clinic at Eastpoint Mall on 23 Jan 2020, was subsequently transported via dedicated ambulance to the hospital for further investigation as part of the protocols implemented by MOH to safeguard public safety.
False rumour (dated Fri 24 Jan): A message circulating on WhatsApp is telling members of the public not to visit certain public hospitals to avoid being infected with the coronavirus.
Clarification: MOH has clarified that all public hospitals have strict protocols to handle and manage suspect cases related to the novel coronavirus. Suspect cases presented at the hospitals will be immediately isolated and further assessed.
Under Pofma, or the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, swift action will be taken against persons who are found to be spreading falsehoods about the Wuhan virus. Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran urged Singaporeans to only rely on information from trusted sources and refrain from causing unnecessary panic via the spreading of misinformation and falsehoods.
Do verify information before sharing and stay updated by referring to official sources at:
http://www.moh.gov.sg/ (MOH website)
https://www.gov.sg/article/covid-19-clarifications (Clarifications on misinformation regarding the virus)