The Changhua County Public Health Bureau yesterday rejected rumors that a county hospital was treating a patient diagnosed with the novel coronavirus spreading from Wuhan City in China’s Hubei Province.
No patients with the pneumonia-like virus, dubbed the 2019 novel coronavirus, have been found in the county, bureau head Yeh Yen-po (葉彥伯) said.
The rumor has been circulating on the messaging app Line with the statement that “we now have a patient of the novel coronavirus in our hospital, although this is not on the news,” the agency said.
“Do not visit Yuanlin Christian Hospital unless you really have to,” the message from an unidentified person said, adding that their sister-in-law, a nurse who works at the hospital, told them of the patient.
A similar rumor circulated on Facebook as early as three days ago, saying that the patient was in Changhua’s Yuan Sheng Hospital, Yeh said.
The bureau has investigated both rumors and confirmed them to be false, he said, adding that it had also contacted the person who published the Facebook post and they removed it.
The person, in spreading rumors about the disease, breached the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法) and faces a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$99,980), Yeh said.
The novel coronavirus has been designated a category-five communicable disease, Yuanlin Christian Hospital said, adding that it would report any discovered case to the government as required by law.
Separately, Chinese-language TV station CtiTV News talk show host Wang Yu-cheng (王又正) on Wednesday sparked controversy by suggesting that wearing surgical masks might not be a priority for disease control.
“The Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] should control the disease by preventing the virus from entering Taiwan, closely monitoring those who might have been infected and curing the infected,” he said in a talk show.
“If the DPP can do that, what is the need for wearing masks? Do people need to wear masks in Taiwan? No,” he said.
DPP legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀), a former obstetrician, yesterday said that urging the public to not wear masks as a response to disease might contravene the act.
She has already informed the Central Epidemic Command Center to mete out fines for such behaviors, she wrote on Facebook.
Additional reporting by Ann Maxon
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