Cops in fake news dragnet to curb Wuhan coronavirus panic

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed disclosed today that the investigations were launched into four separate Facebook posts and one WhatsApp exchange. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed disclosed today that the investigations were launched into four separate Facebook posts and one WhatsApp exchange. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — The police are following through with their threat of strict action against fake news related to the novel coronavirus (2019-nC0V), launching five separate investigations over such offences.

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed disclosed today that the investigations were launched into four separate Facebook posts and one WhatsApp exchange.

The investigations were variously opened under the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act.

Huzri said that while the 2019-nCoV issue was undeniably causing public concern, authorities were doing everything in their power to address the matter.

“As such, PDRM would like to urge the public to stop spreading unverified news, articles, information about this issue,” he said in a statement that took aim at those he called “internet champions”.

Among others, one investigation was launched against a Facebook user for leaking a police report online, which is punishable by up to RM1 million in fines and a year’s imprisonment.

Another was opened into a claim made on Facebook that 1,000 Chinese visitors entered Penang on Sunday.

Yet another was a claim that Chinese patients who have died from the coronavirus were being surreptitiously moved from KLIA2 on buses.

The last was for claiming that five confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV were reported in Terengganu.

Authorities have previously debunked these rumours and more.

The number of positive cases of 2019-nCoV in Malaysia rose to seven today, after three more new infections were confirmed.

Global health authorities are still studying the coronavirus that is believed to have originated from Wuhan in China to determine the appropriate level of medical response worldwide.

This morning, China reported that its death toll from 2019-nCoV has risen to 132 while confirmed infections shot up to 5,974.

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