Coronavirus in Morocco: Three Arrests in an Attempt to Fight against Fake News

The Moroccan authorities on Wednesday called for caution in the face of increasing “fake news” about the new Coronavirus outbreak, with at least three arrests of bad jokers in recent days.

“Some accounts on social networks and instant messaging applications (…) are publishing false and misleading information attributed to official institutions” to announce preventive health measures, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Moroccan Interior Ministry.

On Tuesday, the Moroccan Ministry of Education vigorously denounced “a fake photo” circulating on social networks to claim the closure of all schools in the country from Wednesday. On the same day, the daily L’Economiste denied a “false information” posted with its official logo on social networks concerning a “new home” in a Casablanca suburb.

“All legal steps will be taken (…) to identify the people involved in the publication of these allegations and lies,” the interior ministry’s statement warned.

Two people who were filming prank videos in the street announcing to passers-by that they had been contaminated abroad “to see their reactions” were arrested in Marrakesh (center), according to a message published Tuesday on the twitter account of the National Security (DGSN). The DGSN had already announced last week the arrest of an inhabitant of Tetouan (north) who had announced in a video “to record deaths related to the virus”.

The kingdom reported on Monday a first confirmed case of Covid-19 contamination concerning a Moroccan from Italy, placed in isolation in a hospital in Casablanca. Since then, several public events such as the annual agriculture show or a judo Grand Prix have been canceled as a precaution.

The craziest rumors and the most unusual preventive advice began circulating on Moroccan social networks after the announcement of a first case reported in neighboring Algeria on 25 February.

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