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MOH files police report after news of COVID-19 cases leaked before official update

MOH files police report after news of COVID-19 cases leaked before official update

People wear face masks in Singapore, Apr 3, 2020. (File photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: The health ministry has made a police report after news on the number of COVID-19 cases were leaked before the release of the daily updates.

On Thursday, speculation that Singapore had 728 new cases of COVID-19 was circulated on social media and WhatsApp in the early afternoon, hours before the Ministry of Health (MOH) officially released the number in its daily update.

MOH's official announcement was released to the media just after 11pm on Thursday.

The 728 figure represented Singapore's highest single-day increase, with the majority being work permit holders residing in dormitories.

READ: Two weeks and a 70-fold increase: A look into the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore's foreign worker dormitories

The new cases also included an 89-year-old nursing home resident, a seven-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl.

On Friday, messages also circulated on social media and chat messaging platforms that Singapore had 1,146 new cases. MOH released a preliminary update at about 6pm that reported 623 cases instead.

"The Ministry of Health is aware of the incident. We have made a police report and police investigations are ongoing," an MOH spokesperson said on Saturday in response to queries from CNA.

READ: Timeline: How the COVID-19 outbreak has evolved in Singapore so far

The incident comes two weeks after a draft statement announcing the closure of schools and the implementation of full home-based learning was leaked hours before an address by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announcing the measures.

The joint Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) press release was emailed to the media by the ministries only after the Prime Minister's address. 

The image of the press release that had circulated said that all schools would move to full home-based learning for three weeks, from Apr 13 to Apr 30. It also said that all pre-schools, MOE kindergartens and student care centres would close.

The official press release stated that schools would move to home-based learning between Apr 8 and May 4. It also said that pre-schools and student care centres would provide limited services for children of parents who have to work and cannot find caregivers.

A 37-year-old public servant and her husband have been arrested under the Official Secrets Act for the leak.

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Source: CNA/aj


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