Singapore — The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), in a statement released on Wednesday (Jan 29), has called on Singaporeans not to produce and spread fake news and rumours about the Wuhan virus outbreak.
Nearly 6,000 people are ill and 132 have died, according to statistics released by China’s National Health Commission on Tuesday (Jan 28). The virus has reached various other cities in China and other countries, including Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the United States, France, Germany, Malaysia and Singapore.
Officials have called for only the facts regarding the outbreak to be disseminated, as false news and rumours have abounded concerning the virus, especially on social media sites online as well as messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
The SDP joined the call for the public to refrain from propagating falsehoods about the Wuhan virus, adding in its statement that “alarming the public through such misinformation only harms our community and ourselves”.
The opposition party urged people to verify the sources of information before sharing posts, double-checking to see if these are from reliable sources before forwarding them to others. It says this can be done easily through quick searches online to verify the information.
The SDP also backed full cooperation with authorities during this time. “It is important that we do our utmost at this time to cooperate with the authorities to bring the situation under control and to minimise and even stop the virus from further spreading.”
The party also commended efforts the authorities have made in informing the public concerning confirmed cases of the virus as well as their contact histories. “It is important that the public continues to receive timely and detailed information on cases under surveillance. This will be an effective way to reduce rumours from proliferating.”
The SDP statement came a day after the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed another two cases of the virus in the country, bringing the total to seven. With three confirmed cases within the last 24 hours, the MOH noted that the trend of infection among Chinese nationals from Hubei province in Singapore is accelerating, in line with the sharp increase in global infection rates. It said this presented a heightened risk to Singapore, although there was as yet no evidence that the virus had spread in the community.
From Wednesday (Jan 29), travellers who have passports issued in Hubei and those who have been to Hubei recently will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.
The authorities said on Tuesday that there are around 2,000 individuals in Singapore who have recently travelled to Hubei. From among them, those who are deemed to be at higher risk will be put into quarantine.
According to the co-chairman of the task force, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong: “It is clear that there is heightened risk from Hubei travellers.”
At present there are 75 people who are under quarantine, all of whom were in close contact with the first four individuals in the country who were confirmed to be positive for the Wuhan virus.
Quarantine, which falls under the Infectious Diseases Act, carries strict penalties when disobeyed. A fine of $10,000 and a six-month jail sentence can be meted out for first time offenders, with more stringent penalties for those who repeat the offence. -/TISG