The Department of Health said on Thursday that the directive had also been passed to SPH Magazines – in particular, its HardwareZone user forum. Online platforms would need to carry a correction notice to “all end users in Singapore” who have accessed Facebook, Twitter and HardwareZone.com, the ministry said.
He was referring to false claims circulating online which suggested that a new variant of COVID-19 originated in Singapore and was likely to spread to India.
“There is no new ‘Singapore’ variant of COVID-19. There is also no evidence of a variant of COVID-19 that is “extremely dangerous to children,” “the health ministry said. “The prevalent strain in many of the COVID-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is variant B.1.617.2, which originated in India. The existence and spread of the B.1.617.2 variant in India predates the detection of the variant in Singapore, and this was publicly known and reported by various media sources as of May 5, 2021. “
The correction order was issued by the Office for Protection against Falsehood and Online Manipulation (POFMA), which oversees the law.
The move came days after Delhi Indian Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Twitter that a Singaporean variant of the virus was particularly harmful to children and could trigger a third wave of infections in India. He also urged his government to cancel flights from Singapore.
In response, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it “regrets unsubstantiated claims” and is “disappointed” that a prominent politician has failed to establish the facts before making such claims. affirmations. The ministry added that it had met with the Indian High Commission to express its concerns.
For his part, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar berated Kejriwal, who belongs to the country’s largest opposition party, Aam Aadmi. Jaishankar said on Twitter: “Irresponsible comments from those who should be better informed can hurt long-standing partnerships. So let me clarify – Delhi CM does not speak for India. “
He added that the two countries had been partners in the fight against COVID-19 and that India was “grateful” for Singapore’s role as a logistics hub and supplier of medical oxygen that India needed during the course. of its second wave.
India reported a daily record of 4,529 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, surpassing a previous world record in the United States where 4,475 deaths were recorded on January 12.
Singapore is currently experiencing a second wave of infections, with 34 community cases recorded on Wednesday and the 24 consecutive days of detection of such infections. A total of 31 people had succumbed to the virus in the city-state.
The POFMA was adopted in May 2019, following a brief public debate, and launched in October 2019 with details on how appeals against the guidelines could be brought. The bill was passed amid fierce criticism that it gave the government sweeping powers over online communication and would be used to stifle free speech as well as crack down on political opponents.
Failure to comply with a POFMA directive is a violation of the law. Offenders could face three or five years in jail, a fine of SG $ 30,000 or SG $ 50,000, or both. If bots or non-genuine accounts are used to amplify lies, the potential penalties that could be applied would be doubled. Offending Internet intermediaries, meanwhile, could face fines of up to SG $ 1 million, and could also be fined SG $ 100,000 daily for each day they continue to break the law after their termination. conviction.