Fact check: Singapore Govt debunks coronavirus posts; asks citizens not to spread rumours

  • Singapore government has debunked a series of misleading news posted on social media related to the China virus outbreak

  • Governmet asked members of the public to not speculate or spread any rumoured news online

While Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed three additional imported cases of Wuhan coronavirus infection in the island nation on Thursday, Jan 30 and revealed that there is no current evidence of community spread in the Republic and dismissed a series of misleading news related to the China virus outbreak.

The Singapore government has mentioned in a statement that the no Singapore resident contracted the Wuhan coronavirus without going to the affected region Wuhan in China and that the city-state has not run out of masks. This revelation came after a website called AB-TC City News published an article claiming that five Singaporeans had contracted the coronavirus without going to China and the article was shared by opposition party leader Lim Tean.

Coronavirus is a new Fake News topic

The Government of Singapore first noticed a series of fake news on social media platform Facebook which claim that Woodlands MRT was closed for disinfection due to a suspected case of the Wuhan coronavirus infection. In addition, the post also argues that Singaporeans should not go to Woodlands MRT. But later the Government which has been combating fake news for the past few years and recently implemented Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), stated that these posts are not true and Woodlands MRT was not closed on January 28.

Later on Thursday, a website called 'City News' published an article titled "BREAKING NEWS: Singapore records six more coronavirus cases, a total of 16 now." The article claimed that the five Singapore residents have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus without visiting China in recent times.

Later on the same day, the Singapore government stated that "There is no local transmission of the Wuhan virus in Singapore. All confirmed cases in Singapore to date are Chinese nationals who traveled from Wuhan."

The latest correction orders came after the Government invoked the law twice earlier in relation to the virus.
Fake news related to coronavirus GOV.SG

Revelation on face mask unavailability

In another news release, the government revealed that "There was a false statement on The States Times Review Facebook page on the supply of surgical masks in Singapore. The page is run by Mr Alex Tan, who lives in Australia."

It should be noted that The States Times Review in 2019, Singapore's Ministry of Law (MinLaw) slammed Facebook for its response to take down a States Times Review article, which they called "baseless and defamatory" and filed a police complaint about it. This year on Thursday, on the Facebook page it said that Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Transport, Lam Pin Min confirmed that Singapore had run out of face masks.

It also suggested that Lam Pin Min was blaming Singaporeans for "insensible and irresponsible" use of surgical masks. Meanwhile, the Australian, Tan, posted that Singapore had run out of masks since last Sunday, January 26, less than three days after the first confirmed case.

To widen distribution of face masks

However, the People's Action Party member Lam Pin Min was clearly pictured in a warehouse in his Facebook post which showed part of the Government stockpile of surgical masks. The post also included that there is sufficient supply of masks if people use them sensibly and responsibly.

Later, on Thursday as per the Singapore government's post, Chan Chun Sing, the Minister for Trade and Industry said in a press conference that the Singapore Armed Forces would begin packing more than five million surgical masks in the afternoon.

"The masks would be distributed to local resident households in packets of four surgical masks per household from this Saturday. This clearly indicates that Singapore has not run out of face masks for Singaporeans," the government said in a post.

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Singapore combating coronavirus

The government stated that even though the stockpile is currently sufficient to meet the needs of our public healthcare institutions, the authorities need to continue to manage the private usage rate and prioritise the allocation of the masks to those who need it most, which include the healthcare workers on the frontline and the vulnerable within our society. The statement added that "The Ministry of Trade and Industry is actively working on identifying new suppliers of surgical masks and will continue to ensure that existing lines of supplies are kept robust."

However, the Singapore government has asked the members of the public to not speculate or spread any rumoured news online. The Singaporean also advised visiting www.moh.gov.sg for updates on the Wuhan coronavirus situation.

Related topics : Fake news Coronavirus Facebook