Last December, China detained eight doctors after they reported observing several patients in Wuhan coming down with what they thought might have been Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, but was actually the coronavirus, The Daily Beast reports.
The group of doctors and medical technicians attended medical school together and communicated over WeChat, a Chinese social media network. Chinese police announced on Jan. 1, 2020 that the group had been detained for “misinforming” the public, saying that Chinese authorities have “taken legal measures” against those who “spread rumors.” One of those doctors has since been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
"We have rolled out a variety of tools and features on the platform to help users stay safe and protect themselves against the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic," WeChat said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "Importantly, this includes debunking false rumors."
China’s Supreme People’s Court wrote on social media this week that officials in Wuhan should learn a “profound lesson” from the incident, which is that “rumors stop when information is public,” according to The Australian.
“It might have been a fortunate thing if the public had believed the ‘rumors’ then and started to wear masks and carry out sanitization measures, and avoid the wild animal market,” the court added.
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