Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Facebook, Twitter and HardwareZone forum served with Pofma directive over 'S'pore variant' claims

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s fake news law has been invoked by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in response to a statement circulating online claiming that there is a new variant of Covid-19 which originated in the Republic.

The Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office to issue a correction direction to Facebook, Twitter and the HardwareZone forum owned by SPH Magazines, said MOH in a press release early on Thursday morning (May 20).

The platforms will be required to carry a correction notice to all their users in Singapore.

“The Ministry of Health (MOH) is aware of a false statement circulating online by multiple media outlets and social media platforms, which implies that a new, previously unknown variant of Covid-19 originated in Singapore and/or risks spreading to India from Singapore,” it said.

It added that there is no new Singapore variant of Covid-19 and that there is also no evidence of any Covid-19 variant that is “extremely dangerous for kids”.

“The strain that is prevalent in many of the Covid-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is the B16172 variant, which originated from India,” it added.

Earlier in the week, both MOH and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had issued statements on claims by a politician in India regarding the supposed new variant.

Dehli’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had in a Twitter post in Hindi called on India’s government to cancel flights with Singapore.

He claimed a “new form of corona” from the country could cause a third wave of infections in India.

His remarks were carried by several news outlets including the Hindustan Times and NDTV, a broadcaster in India.

MOH said in a statement on Tuesday that there was no truth to his claims while the MFA stated that it “regrets the unfounded assertions” made by Mr Kejriwal on social media.

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