Fisheries Department Shares Coronavirus Fake News

The viral post was attributed to Unicef, but the UN agency has denied issuing the message.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — The Fisheries Department shared today an unverified message about tips to prevent the novel coronavirus that it wrongly credited to United Nations agency Unicef.

The post, which first went viral on WhatsApp, claimed that Covid-19 lives for nine hours when it falls on fabrics, “so washing clothes or exposing them to the sun for two hours is enough for the purpose of killing him (sic)”.

Not only that, but since the virus purportedly lives on a person’s hands for 10 minutes, “putting the alcohol sanitiser in the pocket”, somehow, “is enough for the purpose of prevention.”

The text message, which was viraled in Malay as well, also claimed that if the virus is exposed to a temperature of 26-27°C, it will be killed as it does not live in hot areas. As such, drinking hot water and being exposed to the sun is “good enough”.

The Fisheries Department shared fake news about Covid-19 on March 5, 2020. Screengrab from Facebook @Jabatan-Perikanan-Malaysia-DOF.

People who commented on the Fisheries Department’s Facebook post called out and poked fun at the federal agency for crediting the information to Unicef, which rubbished claims today that it wrote the post as “fake news”.

“Check… first,” wrote Syafiah Izzati, while Facebook user Lufy Haha said, “How palatau”, using the popular combination of the Malay words kepala (head) and tahu (know) to describe those who see themselves as subject matter experts despite not knowing much about it.

The post also says gargling with warm water and salt “kills” a person’s tonsils and prevents them from “leaking into the lungs”, besides recommending staying away from ice cream and cold food.

An hour after it put up the post, the Fisheries Department removed mention of Unicef in its Facebook post, but stopped short of taking it down entirely.

CodeBlue has reached out to the department for comment.

The Ministry of Health has repeatedly warned people that sharing fake news on Covid-19 is a criminal offence.

Update at 6:23pm: Immediately after CodeBlue’s story was published, the Fisheries Department took down the post.

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