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Goh Meng Seng, HardwareZone and Thailand Medical News issued Pofma directions over misleading XBB article

SINGAPORE — HardwareZone Forum, a website called Thailand Medical News, opposition party member Goh Meng Seng and the Facebook page named "Goh Meng Seng People’s Power Party" have all been issued correction directions under Singapore's law against online falsehoods, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

The Health Ministry said local data in the last two weeks shows that XBB cases are estimated to have a 30 per cent lower risk of hospitalisation compared to Omicron BA.5 variant cases.
The Health Ministry said local data in the last two weeks shows that XBB cases are estimated to have a 30 per cent lower risk of hospitalisation compared to Omicron BA.5 variant cases.
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SINGAPORE — HardwareZone Forum, a website called Thailand Medical News, opposition party member Goh Meng Seng and the Facebook page named "Goh Meng Seng People’s Power Party" have all been issued correction directions under Singapore's law against online falsehoods, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

It said in a statement on Friday (Oct 14) that all four parties had shared false and misleading statements in an article titled "BREAKING! Singapore Is Under Attack By The New SARS-CoV-2 XBB Recombinant Variant With COVID-19 Infections And Hospitalizations Rising. Thailand Could Be Next!".

The correction directions require each of them to insert a notice against the original post or article, with a link to the Government’s clarification.

The move came after MOH issued a statement on Tuesday to refute rumours circulating on messaging platform WhatsApp that there is a rapid and large increase in Covid-19 cases here with severe illness and deaths due to the circulating XBB strain of the Omicron variant.

At the time, the ministry said that it was initiating action under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) against such falsehoods.

In Friday's statement, MOH pointed to an Oct 9 article posted by Thailand Medical News on its website, Facebook page and Twitter account.

The website claims to be part of medical and media startups with parent companies that are incorporated in Australia and the United States, and states that it was "initially set up to showcase Thailand's medical industry" and has since evolved into an international medical news outlet.

The article was also shared on Facebook pages belonging to Mr Goh and on a HardwareZone forum thread on Oct 10.

The article claimed that increased disease severity of Covid-19 is becoming a common occurrence, even in people who are fully vaccinated. The article also claimed that mortuaries, funeral parlours and crematoria are facing a "pile up" in cases.

These claims are false, MOH said.

"There has been no evidence of XBB subvariant causing more severe illness than previous variants. In fact, our local data in the last two weeks shows that XBB cases are estimated to have a 30 per cent lower risk of hospitalisation compared to Omicron BA.5 variant cases," the ministry added.

MOH said that it also did not observe increases in Covid-19 deaths over the past month.

Although Thailand Medical News has since amended the misinformation, the article as first published on Oct 9 misrepresented the Covid-19 situation in Singapore and had been circulating in private messaging chats and other social media channels.

This could cause undue public concern, it added.

Related topics

Pofma Goh Meng Seng MOH Covid-19 Omicron coronavirus Facebook online falsehood

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