Friday 5 June, 2020

Gov't warn of misinformation danger amid coronavirus fears

Saint Lucia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sharon Belmar George has cautioned against spreading fear and panic amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The nation was gripped by fear amid the outbreak after rumours began making rounds on social media that a passenger onboard a TUI flight at the Hewanorra International Airport was infected with the dreaded virus.

Health officials immediately kicked in the necessary protocols and after a thorough assessment was done, it was discovered that the sick passenger was suffering from a chronic disease and needed immediate medical assistance.

Dr Belmar has cautioned the citizenry against the dangerous spread of misinformation.

“There were pictures, voice notes, it went around, everybody without the capacity to diagnose within a short period they diagnosed COVID-19 on the flight and it is unfortunate because it causes even more concern and panic on the ground,” she said.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet on Tuesday expressed concern over the spread of misinformation, adding that such a practice will hurt the country, especially as it relates to the tourism sector, which the island is heavily dependent on.

“I am always concerned when people who proclaim to be Saint Lucians engage in this kind of behaviour because ultimately what they are affecting is the reputation of the country and this is why a 24-hour line has been established,” Chastanet declared.

“Before anybody goes out publicly with any information, it is very easy to verify. We have also made it so that it is nonpolitical. We have allowed the CMO to be the key spokesperson on this issue so we are asking everyone to please conform,” he declared.

“We have a heightened situation already, we don’t need to add any fuel to the fire so it is a very simple thing; one phone call to be able to verify the information,” he added.

Individuals found spreading false information he says will be dealt with within the confines of the law.

“We do have cyber technology that we will be using to try to track to the best of our ability anybody who is in breach of that protocol.”

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