Viral message on Wuhan virus not true: MoH

Azlan Othman

The Ministry of Health (MoH) last night clarified that messages spread through the social media about a foreign patient suspected of having H1N1 or Coronavirus infection receiving treatment at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital are not true and have been distributed by irresponsible parties. About the picture of a Chinese patient that went viral on social media, the MoH has confirmed that the visitor has been examined at RIPAS Hospital and sent to the National Isolation Centre for further examination and precautionary measures, it said in a statement.

Currently, the patient is in stable condition and the MoH is in the process of determining if the patient has anything to do with the 2019-nCoV from Wuhan, China.

The MoH added and informed the public that since the news of the 2019-nCoV virus infection was announced by the World Health Organization on January 7, 2020, the ministry has increased its vigilance and preparedness to control the entry of the virus into Brunei Darussalam.

Among the steps taken are to re-introduce the use of body temperature checks for passengers arriving in the country via Brunei International Airport, particularly from cities in China, starting on January 21, 2020; improved implementation of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in government clinics and hospitals; and ongoing monitoring and risk assessment of the condition of the infection worldwide.

The MoH also explained that according to the current Standard Operating Procedure, anyone showing signs of influenza infection such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, especially those with a history of travel to China, will be taken to RIPAS Hospital for further examination. This is also a routine procedure for any sick passenger upon arrival in Brunei Darussalam.

The public is advised not to be alarmed by the transmission of such pictures or information. The Ministry of Health also advised the public not to be influenced by news being spread over the Internet or through other media such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook without confirming its authenticity.

Furthermore, the public is warned to be more responsible and not to disseminate any information that is not verified by the ministry.

The act of distributing unauthorised information, let alone falsely and deliberately by those who intend to mislead is an offence and may be reported under the Public Order Act, Chapter 148 of Section 34, whereby anyone either verbally or in writing or using any means, disseminating false reports or making false statements, resulting in anxiety among the public is punishable by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of BND3,000.

For more information, the public can visit the Ministry of Health’s website or contact Darussalam line 123.