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Ministry of Health issued an announcement yesterday urging people to stop spreading false information or rumors about COVID-19 and other related information on social media to avoid adverse consequences.

In the last two days, Ministry of Health have been urging people not to share information, especially personal information of the Person Under Investigation for COVId-19 on social media causing fear as well as hostile reactions toward patient and her family.

Shortly after the patient was admitted to Belau National Hospital on March 30th, messages and posts were passed around on Facebook identifying the patient, with a picture, a name, and where the patient resided, including travel history.

“Virus has no boundary, it can infect anyone, me, you or anyone else.  Giving out personal information of persons under investigation for the virus stigmatize people, make others react to them negatively.  If it happens to you, you would not like it.  Worse, it will make people who are sick scared of getting tested and this is much worse, especially in times like this,” stated Minister of Health Dr. Emais Roberts.

President Remengesau Jr. reiterated the same message, calling on people to be more responsible and kind.  “Protect yourself and your family by following the recommendations of the Ministry of Health on social distancing, hand washing and others. Don’t stoke the fear of the community by passing out false information.  This will just cause fear and panic.”

The patient who was admitted to Belau National Hospital on March 30 was experiencing symptoms similar to those connected to COVID-19 and also had recently arrived from Guam, an island with known positive cases.  Minister Roberts said that these conditions automatically put the patient under the category of Person Under Investigation and triggers the necessary emergency protocols.

Samples from patient were sent to Guam last night and result is expected this weekend, according to Minister Roberts.  In the meantime, the patient was reported to be recovering well but remain under isolation until result of the test is received.

Dr. Roberts recommends to people who believe they have been in contact with patient to self-quarantine and monitor their health and contact hospital hotline if they need to be checked.

Ministry of Health continue to urge the public not to spread on social media or share any unsubstantiated content about claims and cures for COVID-19.  Such action may result in panic, fear and adverse consequences according to Ministry of Health.

Trusted sources recommended by MOH are Palau Ministry of Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

“Beware of criminals who disguise themselves as credible agencies, such as the WHO or CDC, with the goal of stealing money or causing other harm,” warned the MOH announcement.

Best way to protect yourself and your family is practicing preventive measures such as frequent handwashing with soap and water, practicing proper coughing/sneezing etiquette, avoiding sick people, social distancing, self-quarantine for travelers and self-isolation for sick individuals as recommended by the Ministry of Health.