Clarifications: False rumours regarding new COVID-19 case in Da Nang debunked

There have been a number of fake messages and unfounded rumours circulating related to the COVID-19. Recently, the Ministry of Health has completely refuted a deeply concerning rumour that a person living in Da Nang city tested positive for coronavirus.

Soon after the world started getting used to the terms coronavirus and COVID-19, WHO coined another word: "infodemic" — an overabundance of information and the rapid spread of misleading or fabricated news, images, and videos. Like the virus, it is highly contagious and grows exponentially. It also complicates COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.

Proliferating misinformation — even when the content is, in a best-case scenario, harmless — can have serious and even social and lethal health ramifications in the context of a global pandemic. In some countries, including Vietnam, rumours about impending food scarcity prompted people to stockpile supplies early on in the epidemic and caused actual shortages.

According to Da Nang Today, such fake news which has gone strongly viral on social networks over recent days adversely sparked the general public’s fear and anxiety over the possibility of new coronavirus wave in Da Nang.

The fake news featured a result released by the Lien Chieu District Medical Centre on a female woman residing in Da Nang catching the SARS-CoV-2 virus, doctor Ton That Thanh, the Director of the Da Nang Center for Disease Control said.

Previously, a male native of Da Nang who had been in close contact with a new positive case in the community in Ho Chi Minh City, however, tested negative for the virus.

Da Nang is focusing on tracking down all close contacts of this man in order to place them into isolation at district-level medical facilities, and public hospitals in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Over recent times, some Vietnamese people have made use of the complicated development of the pandemic to spread false information on social media to generate likes, views and shares without worrying about the consequences of their harmful actions.

To address this raging issue, the Vietnamese government has decided to slap fines on people who put up false, slanderous or lurid content online.

In details, a new decree, effective from mid April, imposes a fine of VND10 - 20 million (USD 426 - 853) for taking advantage of social networks to provide fake information, slander or insult agencies and organisations, lower the honor or dignity of individuals; promote superstition, obscenity or depravity that is incompatible with the nation's traditions and customs; providing and sharing information describing the act of killing and horror, graphic images.

Mai Nguyen