Spread­ing fake MERS ru­mors could lead to NT$500,000 fine

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY SUN HSIN- HSUAN

Cit­i­zens should be care­ful not to raise false alarms re­gard­ing MERS in­fec­tions in the na­tion, the New Taipei City Depart­ment of Health (DOH, ) said yesterday, as any­one do­ing so may face a max­i­mum fine of NT$500,000.

Con­cern has been grow­ing as MERS con­tin­ues to claim lives in South Korea, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing 23 deaths so far this year. DOH of­fi­cials said that the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA, ) will im­me­di­ately an­nounce any pos­si­ble in­fec­tion case on its of­fi­cial web­site. Cit­i­zens were warned not to spread ru­mors, es­pe­cially on the In­ter­net.

A 35-year-old man sur­named Yeh ( ), posted on his Face­book on Mon­day that two mid­dle-aged women with MERS symp­toms had fainted on a flight from Taipei to South Korea. Yeh claimed that the women were later con­firmed to be in­fected with the MERS virus af­ter ar­riv­ing in South Korea. The mes­sage was then shared quickly, of­fi­cials said.

Yeh also listed sev­eral places that he claimed the women had vis­ited dur­ing their stay in Tai­wan, in­clud­ing Suao ( ), Taipei 101, night­clubs in Taipei, and Tonghua night mar­ket.

Later that day the FDA dis­cred­ited the ru­mor. The New Taipei City Po­lice Depart­ment (NTPC,

) col­lab­o­rated with DOH of­fi­cials, bring­ing in Yeh for in­ter­ro­ga­tions. Yeh ad­mit­ted that his post based on vague sto­ries from friends, and that he re­grets post­ing the un­founded state­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to the Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­ease Con­trol Act, those spread­ing ru­mors re­gard­ing con­ta­gious dis­eases can face fines rang­ing from NT$90,000 to NT$500,000, DOH of­fi­cials said. Yeh will be the first to face a fine due to spread­ing false in­for­ma­tion of in­fec­tious dis­eases.

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