Police to prosecute false social media reports of coronavirus deaths in Mpumalanga

There is no coronavirus patients in Mpumalanga
There is no coronavirus patients in Mpumalanga
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

The Mpumalanga police have issued a stern warning following false social media posts suggesting that the province has had six deaths associated with coronavirus. 

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brig Leonard Hlathi told Sowetan on Monday morning that people who peddle lies about the virus having killed people in Mpumalanga will face prosecution. 

This came after photoshopped images depicted the death of a patient from the virus in Witbank Hospital, as well as false reports of another case there as well as in Mbombela, Verena, KwaMhlanga and Matibidi Hospital in Bushbuckridge. 

Mpumalanga department of health MEC Sasekani Manzini said in a statement they were concerned about the false reports as the province has not had any coronavirus (Covid-19) case. 

Hlathi said: “Those spreading false information either way will face prosecution because this is not a matter to play with. You can’t give people false information and also take pictures of officials and portray them as if they are confirming such false information.” 

An old photograph of Hlathi talking to the media was also posted on social media suggesting that he was confirming such deaths. 

Manzini said: “As the department we are highly concerned about the continuous fake news circulated on social media platforms stating that there are positive coronavirus cases in Mpumalanga.

"I would like to state on record that there are no coronavirus positive cases reported in Emalahleni or anywhere in Mpumalanga.

"We would also like to assure the public that there are NO positive cases of coronavirus reported in the province. There is no need to panic. We assure the public that the department is on high alert for the coronavirus and if there are any cases that test positive for the Covid-19, we will immediately inform the public," said Manzini. 

Manzini said though there were no reported cases in the province, people experiencing symptoms which include fever, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, body pains and diarrhoea should report to their nearest health facility for a test for coronavirus. 

“Always follow good hygiene practices: Cover your mouth and nose with a  bent elbow, tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing. Maintain at least one metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, Ensure homes and work places are clean and hygienic, surfaces must be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Regularly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water,” said Manzini. 

She said the public may utilise the MEC's  hotline number 0800-111151 to enquire  about any health-related issue, including coronavirus. 

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