Rumours will jeopardise efforts to prevent coronavirus spread: IEDCR

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-02-18 21:46:25 BdST


The government’s disease control agency IEDCR has warned against spreading rumours about coronavirus on social media, saying doing so will jeopardise efforts to prevent an outbreak in Bangladesh.

Rumourmongers were citing news carried locally and internationally to spread disinformation on the issue, Meerjady Sabrina Flora, the director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said on Tuesday.

The rumours may hamper the process to identify coronavirus patients, she told reporters at a daily briefing organised at the institute in Dhaka.

The IEDCR has screened 72 people, including three Chinese nationals, on suspicion of coronavirus infection, but they all have tested negative, she said.

The 312 returnees from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the spread of the virus to over two dozen countries, were also doing well after returning home following two weeks of isolation, Flora said.

“So we can say that there is no presence of coronavirus in Bangladesh,” she said.

“But the mother of a suspected patient died an unfortunate death as a result of rumours. Not only this, panic has been created among locals in some places. It has put personal and social security of some returnees from China and Singapore at risk,” Flora said.

Even the local authorities and law enforcement, having been affected by the rumours, were intimidating some returnees from China and Singapore, she said.

“Rumours and intimidation will hamper the process to identify possible patients. Such actions will lead the suspected patients to hide information and location. It will put the efforts to identify the patients at risk,” the IEDCR chief said.

She urged government officials to contact the IEDCR via phone for advices to conduct activities related to prevention of a possible coronavirus outbreak.

The authorities in Tangail forcefully hospitalised a returnee from Singapore even though he was not ill or showing symptoms on Sunday as fears of coronavirus increased following infection of five Bangladeshis in the city state.

His mother said rumours spread by locals over his health led to the situation.

Another woman in Satkhira died of heart attack on Feb 11 reportedly after she panicked on rumours that her son had been diagnosed with coronavirus on return from India.

Flora had earlier urged the people not to get misled or panicked by the rumours spread social media about the nature or treatment of coronavirus. Researchers are yet to find any cure for the flu-like disease that causes breathing problem, among other symptoms.