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Singapore States Times issued correction direction over Facebook post about MOH's reporting of COVID-19 cases

Facebook has also been instructed to publish a correction notice on the post by Singapore States Times.

Singapore States Times issued correction direction over Facebook post about MOH's reporting of COVID-19 cases

A woman passes closed shops, during the "circuit breaker" measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), in Singapore's Chinatown on Apr 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has instructed that a correction direction be issued to Singapore States Times over a Facebook post about his ministry's reporting of COVID-19 cases, said the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office on Saturday (Apr 18).

The Facebook post, published on Saturday, contained "multiple false statements", said the POFMA Office. 

It alleged that the number of new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Friday was 1,146, and that the total number of confirmed cases was 5,573. 

It also claimed that Mr Gan ordered the reported numbers to be halved to minimise public panic by reporting numbers in the afternoon instead of later at night, alleging a "cover up" by authorities.

The Health Ministry on Friday confirmed 623 new cases of the virus, publishing the numbers in the evening instead of later at night as it usually does.

The allegations made by Singapore States Times are false, said the POFMA Office. 

Government website Factually said: "There was no instruction given by the Minister for Health or the Government to halve or under-report the number of cases. For the purpose of updating the number of new cases of COVID-19 per 24-hour period, MOH has always used 12pm as the cut-off time since the onset of COVID-19.

"There is no cover-up by the Government or MOH.

"MOH’s daily press releases publish information on all confirmed cases, including the number of imported cases, and the linked and unlinked cases at that point in time, even as contact tracing and epidemiological investigations are ongoing."

Authorities also explained that the Health Ministry will now release "top line numbers" in the afternoon, and share further updates on the COVID-19 cases later that same night. 

"Contact tracing is a rigorous and time-intensive process, especially as case numbers increase," stated the Factually website. 

"As there is significant public interest particularly in the number of new COVID-19 infections daily, MOH has started releasing top line numbers (i.e. the gross number of new cases which have been preliminarily confirmed) in the afternoon of each day, even as contact tracing and investigations continue."

It advised members of the public not to speculate and spread unfounded rumours. 

Mr Gan also ordered that a targeted correction direction be issued to Facebook - meaning the social media site will be required to communicate a correction notice to all Singapore users who access the falsehood on its platform.

Earlier this month, a correction direction was ordered against a post on the Singapore States Times Facebook page claiming that foreign workers quarantined for COVID-19 will not be paid their salaries.

A similar order was ordered against the Temasek Review on Friday over a post alleging that a GrabFood driver was fined by police officers for wearing a cloth as a mask and for illegal parking.

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Source: CNA/ga(gs)


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