Singapore has ordered Facebook, Twitter and a local publisher to correct what it says is a false statement circulating that implies a new coronavirus variant originated in the city-state and risks spreading to India.
Under a law aimed at preventing the spread of falsehoods online — officially named POFMA, or Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act — Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung instructed the two social media giants and SPH Magazines to issue a correction notice to their users in Singapore. SPH Magazines owns a popular forum called HardwareZone.
“There is no new ‘Singapore’ variant of Covid-19. Neither is there evidence of any Covid-19 variant that is ‘extremely dangerous for kids,’” Singapore’s Ministry of Health said.
“The strain that is prevalent in many of the Covid-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated from India,” it added. “The existence and spread of the B.1.617.2 variant within India predates the detection of the variant in Singapore, and this has been publicly known and reported by various media sources from as early as 5 May 2021.”
The Covid variant B.1.617 was first detected in India last year. The World Health Organization recently dubbed the B.1.617 a “variant of concern,” which indicates that it’s become a global health threat.
The move from Singapore came after unsubstantiated comments from an Indian politician this week sparked a diplomatic incident between the two countries.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday tweeted that a new coronavirus variant in Singapore is said to be extremely dangerous for children and could result in a third wave in India. He did not provide any evidence to back his claims.