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Goh Meng Seng issued Pofma correction order over Omicron Covid-19 variant falsehoods

SINGAPORE — A correction directive has been issued to opposition member Goh Meng Seng over a Facebook video that contains "false and egregious claims" about the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (Dec 3).

Singapore's health ministry said that Mr Goh Meng Seng's posts make misleading claims about possible interactions between the Covid-19 and human immunodeficiency viruses, as well as the Omicron coronavirus strain's resistance to vaccines.

Singapore's health ministry said that Mr Goh Meng Seng's posts make misleading claims about possible interactions between the Covid-19 and human immunodeficiency viruses, as well as the Omicron coronavirus strain's resistance to vaccines.

SINGAPORE — A correction directive has been issued to opposition member Goh Meng Seng over a Facebook video that contains "false and egregious claims" about the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (Dec 3). 

The video, which Mr Goh posted on various online locations on Facebook, "is misleading and seeks to sow public confusion about the Covid-19 virus as well as mistrust of Covid-19 vaccines", added the ministry. 

MOH said that the posts make the following misleading claims about possible interactions between the Covid-19 and human immunodeficiency viruses, as well as the Omicron variant's resistance to vaccines:

Covid-19 and HIV could combine and become another virus with the characteristics of HIV and Covid-19

Covid-19 and HIV could combine in a fully vaccinated patient to become an airborne HIV that is vaccine-resistant

It has been scientifically established that the Omicron variant is most probably the combination of HIV and Covid-19, and this happened before June 4, 2021

Present vaccines are totally useless against the Omicron variant

The correction directive, issued under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), requires Mr Goh to carry a correction notice alongside each Facebook post containing the falsehoods. 

"The Government takes a serious view of these falsehoods and a police report has been made in relation to the video," MOH said. 

Mr Goh was on Monday also issued a correction directive for sharing a blog post that discouraged people from taking the Covid-19 vaccine. 

DEBUNKING FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT OMICRON STRAIN

The claims made in the Facebook post are false and "without any scientific basis", said MOH.

"Genetic recombination of viruses is known to occur only in genetically related viruses.

"The HIV and SARS-CoV-2 viruses are not related, and it is implausible in biological terms that these viruses can undergo genetic recombination. To date, there is also no scientific evidence that such a recombination between HIV and SARS-CoV-2 has occurred, contrary to Goh’s assertion."

MOH also refuted the claim that HIV might become transmissible by droplets in the air. 

"Viruses simply do not change drastically enough to take on vastly different properties. HIV is transmitted via bodily fluids, for example,  blood, semen or vaginal secretions, and will remain so."

The ministry also said that "there is simply no scientific evidence" to make the claim that the Omicron variant is a combination of HIV and Covid-19.

There is also no evidence to suggest that vaccines are "totally useless" against the new variant.

"Studies are ongoing, and there is currently insufficient data on how the Omicron variant affects vaccine effectiveness. Most scientists believe that existing vaccines will retain some effectiveness against the Omicron variant, but protection may be less due to the large number of mutations in the Omicron variant."

The World Health Organization has listed Omicron as a "variant of concern" and countries across the globe are restricting travel from southern Africa, where the new strain first emerged, and taking other fresh precautions.

MOH advised the public not to speculate or spread misinformation that may cause alarm, and to refer to credible sources of information. CNA

For more stories like this, visit cna.asia

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MOH Pofma Goh Meng Seng Omicron Covid-19 coronavirus

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