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Ministry of Health warns of fake WhatsApp advisory about COVID variant spreading

Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2023. 5:56 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: This evening, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is once again responding to the spread of a false WhatsApp message in circulation concerning a new COVID-19 variant, “COVID-Omicron XBB.”

The message, the Ministry said, did not originate from its environs, nor does it endorse it.

The message should be disregarded, not shared and ignored and the Ministry reminds that it alone is the official source of health information on behalf of the Government and shares that information through the Government Press Office or through its own channels, not including WhatsApp.

The public can access official information from the Ministry of Health and Wellness on the following platforms: Website; Facebook; Instagram; TikTok; YouTube; Toll-free number: 0-800-664-2273; and office numbers 822-2325, 828-6711 or 613-1096.

A similar message was reported by the Ministry publicly in January. Director of Public Health and Wellness Dr Melissa Diaz-Musa told us then she has no reason to believe that Belizeans are or were behind the message: “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.

 

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