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Public warned vs viral ‘fake news’ as coronavirus cases in PH swell

/ 06:17 PM March 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — As the number of COVID-19 cases swells in the country, the spread of disinformation about the disease seemed to be escalating, too, and the public has been forewarned: Beware of fake news.

Conspiracy theories and misleading information about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and 2019 coronavirus disease have swamped social media, defying government appeals for calm since the false reports install fear and panic to the public.

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In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) has so far reported 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a respiratory disease that has infected 110,000 people worldwide and killed at least 3,000, a vast majority of which came from the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak.  

Here are some of the deceitful information people should stop spreading: 

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No DOH order to stock ready-to-eat-food

DOH — the agency at the forefront of battling the disease — is likewise waging a war against disinformation.

Fake content alert! ⚠️DOH is NOT instructing people to stock on ready-to-eat food due to alleged imminent lockdown in…

Posted by Department of Health (Philippines) on Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The health department debunked a fake advisory circulating on Facebook, claiming that it is urging people to stock ready-to-eat food due to the alleged imminent lockdown of Metro Manila because of COVID-19 transmission.

It then urged the public to verify information through official DOH channels stated below:

DOH Website: https://www.doh.gov.ph/

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Official Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDOHgov/

Official Twitter account: https://twitter.com/DOHgovph

No community lockdown yet 

The Department of Interior and Local Government also clarified that there’s no lockdown order on Metro Manila and any other COVID-19-hit areas yet.

May mga kumakalat na maling impormasyon na mayroon daw napipintong lockdown dahil sa COVID-19. Wala po itong…

Posted by DILG Philippines on Wednesday, March 11, 2020

In a recent interview, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año explained that they have not seen any pressing reason yet to merit a community lockdown despite dangers posed by COVID-19.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III agreed that a lockdown of the National Capital Region (NCR) is still “premature” at this point.

No order to avoid certain malls, hotels 

DOH also flagged as “fake news” a message circulating on social media advising the public to avoid certain malls, hotels, and establishments. The message claims that confirmed coronavirus patients have wandered around some of the popular malls and establishments across NCR.

Fake content alert: DOH flags the circulating message advising the public to avoid certain malls, hotels and…

Posted by Department of Health (Philippines) on Monday, March 9, 2020

DOH is only disclosing the age, gender, and residence of COVID-19 patients, as well as the hospitals where they are admitted. 

No paid mandatory leave for Cebu workers; no school closure

A report attributed to GMA News claimed that Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia has mandated companies in her jurisdiction to grant their personnel “paid mandatory leave” due to the coronavirus threat. It likewise claimed that all schools in Cebu have been ordered close for two weeks.

However, veteran GMA reporter Raffy Tima said the report is yet another “manipulated image” circulating in chat groups especially in Cebu.

Another case of a manipulated image circulating in chat groups especially in Cebu. This is not true. If the news is…

Posted by Raffy Tima on Tuesday, March 10, 2020

“This is not true. If the news is big, shocking or controversial, expect it to be carried by many news organizations,” Tima wrote.

“A quick google search is all it takes to spot fake information. “

Again, no lockdown order yet

Another chain message saying that establishments have started preparing for a Metro Manila lockdown stirred a buzz on social media. The warning of a possible 15-day to 1-month lockdown supposedly came from an ABS-CBN worker.

FAKE NEWS ALERT: Walang katotohanan ang kumakalat na private message at text message tungkol sa umano’y paghahanda para sa lockdown. Huwag na pong ikalat ang ganitong mensahe na hindi nakakatulong sa publiko.

Posted by ABS-CBN PR on Tuesday, March 10, 2020

But the media giant said that there is no truth in the message. 

“Huwag na pong ikalat ang ganitong mensahe na hindi nakakatulong sa publiko,” ABS-CBN said.

The first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, were reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. 

The virus causes mild symptoms such as fever and cough for most people but can cause serious illness such as pneumonia for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems. 

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.

KGA

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

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