Pofma office orders Singapore States Times to correct post alleging Covid-19 cover-up by MOH

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong instructed the Pofma office to issue a correction direction to the Singapore States Times Facebook page. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - An online post claiming 1,146 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection on Friday (April 17), with a total number of 5,573 confirmed cases in Singapore, is false.

There were 623 confirmed cases as of 12pm on Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 5,050, with no cover-up from the Ministry of Health (MOH), said the Government as it invoked the fake news law against website Singapore States Times.

Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office on Saturday (April 18) to issue a correction direction to the website's Facebook page for its "multiple false statements" on the MOH's reporting of Covid-19 cases in Singapore.

On Saturday, Singapore States Times published a post claiming that Mr Gan ordered the reported numbers to be halved to minimise public panic, by reporting numbers in the afternoon instead of later at night.

It also claimed the Government had covered up the number of uncontactable suspect cases, and the flight information and profiles of imported cases.

It also alleged that the Government had subsequently tried to cover up the total number of cases by reporting only the number of discharged cases and daily increases.

The post also claimed that another website, The States Times Review, had called out the Government and MOH on the cover-up, and MOH had to comply with The States Times Review's post.

However, the Government has clarified that there was no instruction given by Mr Gan or the Government to halve or under-report the number of cases.

For the purpose of updating the number of new cases of Covid-19 per 24-hour period, MOH has always used 12pm as the cut-off time since the onset of Covid-19, said the Government on its fact-checking website Factually.

The Government said that MOH's daily press releases publish information on all confirmed cases, including the number of imported cases, and the linked and unlinked cases at that point in time.

This is even as contact tracing and epidemiological investigations are ongoing.

It said MOH also publishes reports on the daily situation as well as an overview of cases via the case summary table and dashboard that can be publicly accessed on MOH's website.

It added that MOH does not act and has not acted in compliance with any of The States Times Review's posts.

The Pofma directive would require Singapore States Times to display a correction notice and provide access to the accurate information. It is not compulsory for Singapore States Times to take down the post or make edits to its content, and the directive does not impose criminal sanctions.

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