• Friday, Sep 18, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:26 pm

Police going tough against spreading coronavirus rumours

  • Published at 11:50 pm February 14th, 2020
File photo: A worker in a protective suit examines specimens inside a laboratory following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 6, 2020 Reuters

Misinformation, fake news can cost lives, finds a study

Amid global concern over coronavirus outbreak in China, security officials in Dhaka are taking a tough stand on rumours being spread across social media.

In a bid to stop spreading of such rumours, police have decided to take action under the Digital Security Act against people who circulate fake news through social media or online news portals about coronavirus.

Police detained five people on Thursday for questioning their connection with spreading rumours on coronavirus outbreak in the country.

However all of them were released from their respective police stations after signing a bond with the police.

Nazmul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of Cyber Security and Crime Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) said that an online news portal published news that coronavirus has spread in Bangladesh and two persons have died after being infected with the virus, but the news had no authenticity.

“Later, we arranged a counselling session for them and took necessary initiatives to delete those posts from the news portals and Facebook accounts. As the portals apologised and published a corrected post, the detainees were released,” he said.

“Being over-enthusiastic, many people are sharing fake news reports and posts in this regard on social media sites. Those who are spreading rumour on coronavirus will be brought to book under the Digital Security Act,” said the police official.

Earlier on Wednesday, a mother died of a heart attack at Satkhira’s Shyamnagar Upazila following rumours that her son was infected with coronavirus and that he could be shot to death by law enforcers.

Meanwhile, expressing concern over sharing fake information on coronavirus, Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said various rumours have been spread among the public. 

She urged people to cooperate with them to prevent the sharing of rumours.

As of yesterday, 11 people kept in the isolation unit at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and 301, who returned from Yuhan province of China, kept at the temporary quarantine centre at Ashkona were doing well, according to IEDCR.

On the other hand, four Bangladeshi nationals infected with coronavirus were kept at Singapore hospitals including one of them undergoing treatment in the Intensive Care Unit. Six other Bangladeshi nationals were also in quarantine, said the IEDCR director.

Misinformation, fake news can cost lives

Misinformation and fake news on social media during infectious disease outbreaks can cost lives, find researchers, reports Guardian.

A study by East Anglia University, which was supported by Public Health England, researchers found that people who believed on rumours were less likely to behave in a way that would protect themselves and others.

They said efforts to disseminate correct information across social media and correcting the false stories could save lives.

“Fake news is manufactured with no respect for accuracy, and is often based on conspiracy theories,” said the Guardian report quoting Prof Paul Hunter, an expert on the new coronavirus infection, now called Covid-19.

“When it comes to Covid-19, there has been a lot of speculation, misinformation and fake news circulating on the internet – about how the virus originated, what causes it, and how it is spread.

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