|As a Facebooker in Vietnam searches for coronavirus-related news, the first result appears a link to the official website of the Health Ministry. An official has requested locals to follow advice from healthcare professionals to fight fake news – Photo: Thanh Thom
Local internet users are spreading a false quote from a professor named Bach, allegedly a member of the national steering committee for COVID-19 infection prevention and control.
The post reads, “We only have around four to six days left for the outbreak to enter the next phase from 30 to 100-500 cases. And at around 8-12 days (after hitting the 500th case), the figure will rise to 1,000-5,000 cases!”
The post then stresses the need for media outlets to disseminate the information so that locals will fear getting infected and stay at home for at least one week.
However, the committee does not have any members named Bach, according to Nguyen Dinh Anh, head of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Communications, Emulation and Reward, as quoted by the Vietnam News Agency.
Associate Professor Tran Xuan Bach, also known as Bi Ti, distanced himself from the post on his own Facebook page.
“I would like to confirm that I do not perform this role [as a member of the committee] and do not say anything else beyond what I have shared on this Facebook account. Please delete and do not share [the fake post],” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Anh urged the public to verify information before sharing it and to heed advice from healthcare professionals.
Early last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed off on a decree that could subject social network users guilty of spreading fake news to a fine of VND10-20 million (US$432-864). This came amid the Government’s growing concerns over widespread misinformation online on the coronavirus.
A large number of locals have received warnings or fines for spreading rumors about the virus, which authorities said could cause unnecessary fear and public disorder.
Recently, the Ministry of Health released guidelines for local residents to follow to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.
According to the instructions, people should avoid travelling if they have a high temperature, are coughing or have difficulty breathing. They should go to medical stations or hospitals immediately if they have any of these symptoms and report their travel history to medical workers.
If a traveler is suspected of having the disease, they should immediately inform workers on planes, trains or coaches and present themselves at medical stations or hospitals as soon as possible.
On Monday, Vietnam reported its 31st coronavirus case, a British male tourist on the same flight as the 17th coronavirus patient – a 27-year-old Vietnamese woman who returned to Hanoi from London on March 2.
Some 14 new cases were confirmed over the weekend. The first 16 cases were all discharged from hospital after twice testing negative for the virus.