Letter spreads ‘outrageous’ virus misinformation

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Health Minister Rachel-Stephen Smith condemns spread of coronavirus misinformation.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has condemned the outrageous spread of coronavirus misinformation that was distributed as a “health warning” to letterboxes in Garran this week. 

“It’s really unfortunate that there was this dangerous misinformation distributed in Garran this week,” says the health minister. 

“It’s absolutely clear that this is conspiracy theory and I think most Canberrans would know much better than to believe this misinformation.”

COVID-19 has already caused a lot of anxiety in the community this year and Ms Stephen-Smith says this fake information only causes more confusion. 

The “important health warning” that was distributed this week made fake claims that Garran residents are in “imminent danger of catching COVID-19”. To protect their health, it advised residents not to get tested under any circumstance, saying: “You are more likely to catch COVID-19 from a testing centre than any other place”.

The letter also claimed that the testing centre spreads COVID-19 through the local water supply, and that the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination will contain a UN tracking device.

A fake government letter spreads misinformation around Garran.

Following the letter Ms Stephen-Smith wants to assure the community, and particularly Garran residents, that the SURGE centre and all of the COVID-19 testing centres are set up with the highest standards of infection control.

“We’re really disappointed and concerned [by this],” she says. 

“We’re really encouraging Canberrans to listen to health advice from official sources whether that’s the ACT government or the Commonwealth Government. There are lots of sources of official health advice and that advice is that COVID-19 is serious, is real and people should get tested if they have even the mildest of symptoms.

“There is no risk to the surrounding community of being near a testing centre or getting tested.” 

The incident has been reported to police, but the health minister says she’s not aware if they will conduct an investigation at this stage.

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