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Singapore orders social media to correct Indian politician’s allegation of local COVID-19 variant

Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act swings into action

Singapore’s Ministry of Health has invoked the island nation's Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act and required social media companies and media to refute reports that a local variant of the Coronavirus has been detected.

The Ministry's verbosely-titled "General Correction Directions" stated:

There is no new “Singapore” variant of COVID-19. Neither is there evidence of any COVID-19 variant that is ‘extremely dangerous for kids’. The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated from India. The existence and spread of the B.1.617.2 variant within India predates the detection of the variant in Singapore, and this has been publicly known and reported by various media sources from as early as 5 May 2021.

The source of news about the "Singapore variant" appears to have come in a Tweet and Linkedin post from the chief minister of Indian city Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal.

Kerjiwal called for cancellation of flight services from Singapore. His Tweet has since been removed. His LinkedIn post was removed briefly but later reinstated:

Some Twitter users received the following alert from Singapore’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) office:

COVID-19 new variants continue to ravage India and are popping up globally.

The new mutated variants crept into Singapore with clusters occurring among Changi Airport employees and healthcare workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, many of whom had already been vaccinated.

In response, Singapore has instated lockdown-lite regulations it is calling “Phase 2 Heightened Alert” which have resulted in the closure of restaurants, gyms and schools, limited group size and returned most of the working population to work-from-home policies. ®

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