Stop spreading rumours, panic buying: Minister

Azlan Othman & James Kon

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar urged the public not to spread rumours and fake news and requested to refrain from panic buying.

The minister said, “Spreading rumours will not help us at all. It is more helpful to pray for the recovery of the patients rather than spreading fake news.”

He urged the public to read and listen to formal news sources like the Ministry of Health. “We are transparent and have nothing to hide,” the minister told a press briefing yesterday.

“Panic buying is caused by fake news. We urge the public to be more sensible and follow updates on the formal channel of the Ministry of Health. I also urge the public to stop spreading fake news while there is no need for panic buying, especially bags of rice.”

On public gathering, the minister said, “At the moment there is no community spread (if a patient infected with COVID-19 is of untraceable source). All six cases (one confirmed and five presumptive confirmed cases) can be traced. If you are not well, stay indoors and wear a mask. At the moment, we do not recommend a healthy person to wear a mask.”

Panic buying at a local departmental store. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

The capabilities of the National Isolation Centre were also discussed.

The centre has three blocks and can accommodate 27 critically ill patients, while mild cases will be moved to the  Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah (PMMPMHAMB) Hospital in Tutong.

Meanwhile, supermarkets and grocery stores were packed with anxious shoppers stocking up on face masks, hand sanitisers, tissues and essential food items such as rice on Monday.

A member of the public said the long queues and frantic buying reminded him of last-minute Hari Raya shopping and questioned as to why shoppers hoard items in such large quantities.

Amid the shopping frenzy, social media networks have been inundated with advertisements and personalised messages offering hand sanitisers for sale.