DOH: Stop joking, spreading rumors about Ebola in PH
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday appealed to the public to refrain from making jokes or spreading rumors about the entry of the deadly Ebola virus into the country.
Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin said the public should not help spread “unconfirmed and baseless reports,” especially on social media.
“Public health is everybody’s concern so each of us must be responsible and should not spread false information that could create panic,” Garin said in a media briefing.
She said the DOH was discussing with the Department of Justice (DOJ) the possibility of imposing sanctions against those caught spreading Ebola jokes and rumors.
“Possible sanctions against people making jokes and spreading false information similar to a bomb scare are being discussed with the DOJ,” Garin said.
“Fear and false information caused the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Don’t let it happen in our country,” she added.
Garin’s appeal stemmed from an online report that came out on Viral Ninja (safeurlpath.com) quoting a DOH employee named Gemma Sheridan as saying that 18 Ebola cases had been confirmed in Quezon City.
“There is no truth to this report. No case of Ebola has entered the Philippines. The website where the online report was published is a hoax,” said Garin, adding that the DOH had no employee named Gemma Sheridan.
Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, DOH spokesman, said they tried but failed to trace the source of the online report.
The website appeared to give news of an Ebola outbreak in whichever country the story was being read. It said that Dubai, Brunei and Namibia, among other countries, also experienced outbreaks, which were denied by officials of the countries.
Lee Suy said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Ebola was closely monitoring the status of the disease in the affected West African countries and regularly gave updates on developments.
“The country remains free from Ebola,” Lee Suy said, noting that all seaports and airports were on alert to prevent the entry of suspected Ebola cases.
Lee Suy said the DOH was also closely coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the quarantine and other preparations for the return of the more than 100 Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia next week.
The DOH, meanwhile, said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine was preparing to conduct another training on hospital management of the Ebola virus for a second batch of 140 doctors and healthcare workers from 21 private institutions and local government units.
The first batch of 145 doctors and healthcare workers from private and government hospitals recently completed their training.
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