Authorities in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Gia Lai recently slapped two local women with a total fine of VND10 million (US$433) for sharing fake news regarding the local COVID-19 situation on social media.
One of the two women is P.T.M.V., 37, who lives on Truong Chinh Street in the provincial capital city of Pleiku.
M.V. heard rumors that there was a coronavirus-positive case in Gia Lai’s Mang Yang District last month.
Without checking an official source, M.V. posted the false information on her Facebook account.
“According to a reliable source, Gia Lai has documented a coronavirus-positive case in Gia Trung, Mang Yang. [The patient is] probably dying,” she wrote.
The woman deleted her post just ten minutes later after receiving comments disputing the false information.
On July 30, M.V. was fined VND5 million ($216) by the Gia Lai police and inspectors from the provincial Department of Information and Communications for spreading COVID-19 fake news.
On August 3, V.T.B.V., 54, from Gia Lai’s Ayun Pa Town, received the same fine for a similar violation.
The woman previously posted on her Facebook account that “[The national television channel] VTV1 at 5:00 pm on July 30 reported that Kon Tum has logged 39 cases of COVID-19,” referring to another Central Highlands province.
B.V. later admitted to the police that she had misheard the news anchor, who was reporting a local outbreak of diphtheria rather than COVID-19.
Although she had removed the post shortly afterward, the woman was still fined VND5 million for the violation.
There have been several cases in Gia Lai where residents and even officials, civil servants and public employees share and spread unofficial, unverified information on social networks, especially those related to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing confusion in public opinion, according to the municipal administration.
Gia Lai has reported no COVID-19 case since January, when the pandemic first hit Vietnam.
The country’s COVID-19 tally stood at 930 patients, with 437 recoveries and 22 deaths as of Saturday afternoon.