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Ministry of Health believes false COVID XBB WhatsApp message originated outside Belize

Posted: Monday, January 9, 2023. 2:33 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Although no formal investigation has been conducted, Director of Public Health and Wellness Dr Melissa Diaz-Musa told us she has no reason to believe that Belizeans are or were behind the false WhatsApp message that has been spreading in recent weeks, mischaracterizing the level of threat of new COVID-19 variants.

“I had seen this WhatsApp message earlier last year, actually, probably in November, October, but it wasn’t circulating like it was a few days ago. Our opinion is that that did not originate from Belize, because I have also seen [in] other Caribbean countries and CARPHA [the Caribbean Public Health Agency] has also said that they have received a lot of information that this fake WhatsApp message has been circulating not only in Belize but in the other countries in the Caribbean,” Dr Musa told a Zoom call of reporters this morning.

She added that – much like COVID-19 itself – “it’s just something that came to Belize and was circulated locally and people may have genuinely thought it was something from the Ministry of Health in Belize, but I don’t have much more information on that.”

It’s not clear if the 2020 Cyber Crime Act can hold responsible individuals for circulating the message and causing undue panic, but as the Ministry reminded last week, it pays well not to listen to rumours but to heed information from official sources and media.

 

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