Chitral man booked for Coronavirus rumours

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: A man who expressed fear that a Chinese man in Pakistan might have caught the novel coronavirus was booked by Chitral police in a case registered on Tuesday under Section 16 (dissemination of rumours) of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance and Section 25 (intentionally damaging or tampering with telegraphs) of the Telegraph Act.
A first information report (FIR) was registered after the additional assistant commissioner (AAC) wrote a letter to the sub-divisional police officer, saying that “miscreants” had spread rumours of a”possible outbreak of coronavirus in Chitral Lower […] which created huge panic and fear in general public”.
The letter explains that a Chinese national, Woo, who is working on the Lavi Hydro Power Project in Drosh, was admitted to a hospital after he experienced abdominal pain. The patient was discharged after treatment and had “fully recovered”. According to the AAC, the doctors at the hospital had declared the patient’s condition to be normal and had said that he had arrived in Pakistan before the virus surfaced in China.
However, the AAC said in his letter, a resident Irshad Mukarar took an “unauthorised picture” of Woo and uploaded it on Facebook, saying that there were suspicions that the patient had caught the coronavirus. The additional assistant commissioner said that the act was an “offence under relevant laws”. The AAC urged the police to register a case against Mukarar so that other people can be “deterred and stopped [from] spreading rumours”. The virus has killed more than 420 people and infected more than 20,000, nearly all inside China, although cases have been recorded in 23 other countries.