Saturday, February 22 2020


Doctors, official agencies combat coronavirus fake news

Update: February, 05/2020 - 14:46

HCM CITY — The HCM City Children’s Hospital No 1 has not admitted any patient with the coronavirus infection yet, the head of its infectious and neurological diseases department has said.

Dr Trương Hữu Khanh on Monday wrote on his Facebook page, which has thousands of followers, that the hospital last week admitted two children with a high risk of contracting the disease and isolated them before their test results turned up negative.

He took to Facebook to repudiate a claim by someone on social media that the hospital was treating a two-year-old child with coronavirus infection, which caused many people to call up newspaper offices to seek clarification.

“This information is false,” he wrote.

On the same day Lê Minh Hiển, head of Chợ Rẫy Hospital’s social work division, wrote in his Facebook status: “A one-minute voice record said 33 people were killed by the virus at the hospital. The claim is totally false.”

The hospital has in fact only treated two Chinese nationals, a man and his adult son, so far.

The son has recovered and was discharged on Tuesday. The 66-year-old father, who also has diabetes, hypertension and other ailments, remains under treatment, but his condition has improved.

Nowadays fake news and disinformation spread rapidly and widely via social media, especially Facebook, leading to confusion among the public.   

Khanh said this was why doctors like him have to use Facebook to clarify and advise the community.

Doctors, health officials and relevant agencies have to be proactive and regularly update information about the virus on Facebook and hospitals’ and their agencies’ websites to combat fake news and disinformation, he said.

Most hospitals in HCM City have set up their own Facebook page, he said.

Khanh told Việt Nam News: “People who spread fake news and disinformation should be fined if [they] cause serious consequences.”

Police in the south central coastal province of Bình Thuận yesterday fined one woman VNĐ10 million (US$431) for making fake claims on her Facebook page about six people being quarantined in An Phước Hospital with suspected coronavirus infection though the hospital has not said anything of that sort.

Earlier the police and information and communications departments in Hải Phòng and the provinces of Phú Thọ, Quảng Ninh, An Giang, and Thừa Thiên-Huế had also fined individuals VNĐ7.5-12 million for spreading disinformation.

Speaking at an online meeting on combating the coronavirus on February 1, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said the public should remain calm and read the warnings and recommendations for preventive measures published by the ministry on its website.    

The ministry has also set up two free hotlines at 19009095 and 19003228 for public inquiries. Most calls to the hotlines so far have been to ask about coronavirus infection symptoms and hospitals that admit people with the symptoms.  

So far ten people have tested positive for the infection as of February 4, according to the Ministry of Health.

Of the 361 other suspected cases so far, 283 have tested negative and 78 are in quarantine awaiting test results. — VNS




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