To counter several rumours and fabricated videos circulating online and on social messaging apps, the Public Security Department’s (PSD) Cyber Crimes Unit has warned against “spreading panic among citizens in these critical times of fighting the novel coronavirus”.
A rumour regarding the number of COVID-19 cases in the Kingdom reaching 119 spread on social media in the form of an image that had an official Arabic newspaper’s logo as a backdrop. The Prime Ministry later refuted the rumour via its official platform for fighting misinformation, called “Your Right to Know”.
Other rumours of “large numbers of coronavirus cases in Marj Al Hamam” were also spread on several social media platforms, with the PSD quickly announcing that the claim “is nothing more than a rumour and has no validity or truth to it”.
The PSD spokesperson added that “the authorities officially announce all developments related to the virus and the number of infected cases via official platforms and press releases”, calling on citizens “not to publish rumours from unreliable news sources, taking into account the legal liability tied to such acts”.
The Cyber Crime Unit announced in a statement that it has started procedures to “arrest whoever creates, publishes or circulates fake news and hand them to the relevant justice authorities”.
The unit asked social media users to “think well and with the utmost responsibility before publishing or circulating any pictures or videos that might provoke panic, especially in these delicate circumstances that Jordan is going through”.
The current situation “requires the nation’s consolidation, not it’s division”, the unit added.
Rumours spread over the past few days also include a video of a man who passed out in the street being helped by medical personnel, with claims that the man was infected with COVID-19. Minister of Health Saad Jaber, however, responded to the claim, noting that the man “had fainted due to an illness unrelated to the virus.”
“All 85 cases of coronavirus in Jordan are stable. The ministry has looked into the fabricated video, and after our clarification, we hope it will no longer be circulated due to its triggering of anxiety,” he added.
Minister of Education Tayseer Nuaimi also denied rumors about the cancellation of the second semester of school, stressing that “there is no truth in this claim”.
He added that the ministry “will pursue through the Cyber Crime Unit the source of this false information and its promoters and then take the necessary legal measures against them”.
Director of the Royal Medical Services Adel Wahadneh said in a TV interview on Friday that the Kingdom has entered the second stage of the virus, which means that medical facilities and cadres “should prepare for 5,000 cases by mid-April if the situation is not contained.”
Following the interview, news sources published the headline “Wahadneh Says Jordan will have 5,000 cases by April”, to which Wahadneh replied in a statement: “I was very clear in the interview, these numbers will not be witnessed if people self-quarantine and follow government instructions.”