Beware Covid-19 misinformation and get right facts, doctors tell Malaysians

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran speaks during a press conference at Malaysian Medical Association headquarters in Kuala Lumpur November 13, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) asserted today that misinformation about the Covid-19 coronavirus was wreaking havoc and affecting private clinics, more than the infection itself.

It urged the public to verify any news they receive about the Covid-19 coronavirus and not blindly follow information shared by friends or from social media.

It also warned those feeling unwell to seek professional medical help instead of resorting to self-medicating for fear of exposing themselves to others.

MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran and secretary general Dr Thirunavukarasu Rajoo also said the spread of fake news over the Covid-19 outbreak has affected private clinics.

“For example, the case in Banting, there were rumours that a Covid-19 patient had gone to seek treatment at that clinic before being diagnosed with the virus.

“After such rumours had spread, people started to shun the clinic out of fear they would be infected, but they should instead be informed of the truth,” Dr Ganabaskaran told a news conference here.

Dr Thirunavukarasu added that fake news over the outbreak could end up costing people more than the actual virus.

Also weighing in during the press conference was Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah, who said such fake news resulted in some clinics experiencing an 80 per cent drop in business.

“There were rumours that this clinic had a patient with Covid-19 and the clinic has seen an 80 per cent drop over the next few days, where even the clinic’s regular patients stopped going there,” he said.

“We do not want people to avoid coming to the doctor and end up self-treating, which could cause further spread of the infections,” Dr Raj Kumar added.

Putrajaya announced today that it would continue its stern stance against purveyors of fake news in order to maintain civil order and social harmony.

Deputy minister in charge of law Mohamed Hanipa Maidin had said the full extent of the law would be utilised to prosecute those who spread “outright lies and slander” against the government or spreading misinformation intending to create social disharmony.

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