Three Vietnamese fined for spreading fake news on Wuhan coronavirus

By Vo Thanh, Giang Chinh, Quang Binh   January 31, 2020 | 12:17 am PT
Financial penalties have been imposed on three Vietnamese who posted fake information about the novel coronavirus infection on social media.

Ha Thi Le Nhan, 34, from Hue in central Vietnam, Tran Van Tung, 22, from southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, and Vu Thi Thanh, from the northern city of Hai Phong, had published Facebook posts about infected cases in their areas. None of the localities have reported any patients of the nCoV virus.

Nhan was ordered to pay VND12.5 million ($540), Tung VND15 million, and Thanh VND10 million.

Ha Thi Le Nhan signs a police report at Hue police department January 30, 2020. Photo courtesy of the police

Ha Thi Le Nhan signs a penalty report at Hue police department, January 30, 2020. Photo courtesy of Hue police.

Nhan posted on her Facebook account on Wednesday morning that "Hue has detected one nCoV infection case. The patient, a Chinese national from Wuhan, is now quarantined at Hue Central Hospital."

She also posted the same information on several Facebook groups.

Nhan deleted all those posts in the afternoon of Wednesday but by then, the information had already caused confusion among many people.

In the same move, Tung posted on Facebook on Monday: "Le Loi Hospital in Vung Tau Town [capital of Ba Ria-Vung Tau] is putting two Chinese in quarantine as they are suspected to have been infected with the new coronavirus."

In 25 minutes, his post received 300 reactions, 400 comments and 600 shares.

He only deleted the post after Le Loi Hospital denied the information and reported to the police.

Tung admitted later that he heard the news from rumors.

As for Thanh, she wrote on her own Facebook account on Sunday that: "One suspected Wuhan pneumonia infection case has been found in Hai Phong and the patient is now quarantined at Viet Tiep Hospital."

Vu Thi T. Nhan signs a police report at Hai Phongs police department January 30, 2020. Photo courtesy of the police

Vu Thi Thanh (L) writes a penalty report at a police station in Hai Phong. Photo courtesy of Hai Phong Police.

As of Friday, Vietnam has confirmed five cases of nCoV infection, two Chinese and three Vietnamese coming back from Wuhan. One of the Chinese had recovered.

The nation had 97 suspected cases with symptoms like fever and cough, and is quarantining 32 pending test results.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global public health emergency on Thursday.

The virus has spread from mainland China to Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, the U.S., South Korea, France, Germany, Canada, Vietnam, the UAE, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, and the Philippines.

Chinese authorities said 213 people had died as of Friday morning out of more than 9,600 confirmed cases of the disease.

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