MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova has cautioned against panic amid rumors of the coronavirus spread in Moscow.
Moskalkova said in a statement published on her Instagram account that reports were circulating in social networks that "20,000 people have allegedly contracted the coronavirus." "These reports claimed that this data had been swept under the carpet," she noted.
"I call on you not to give way to panic and trust official sources. If you are afraid and you want to be on a safe side, then go and take your children to a doctor for a medical checkup. Please recommend your relatives and friends to do the same and don’t fall for provocations. As the saying goes, trust but verify," Moskalkova wrote.
The human rights chief recalled that a similar situation occurred during the March 2018 fire at the Zimnaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) shopping mall in Kemerovo when fake news claimed that hundreds of people had been killed and law enforcement officials had failed to act. "However, this data was not substantiated by any evidence," the ombudsperson said.
According to Moskalkova, such reports "could sow panic and riots, destabilize society and therefore posed a threat to citizens’ security."
Earlier, some Telegram channels published reports that a patient of Moscow’s infectious disease hospital number one had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Moscow healthcare department did not confirm the final diagnosis on Sunday.
A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan, a large trade and industrial center with a population of 12 million, in late December. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, characterizing it as an epidemic with multiple locations. Besides China, major coronavirus outbreaks have been reported in Italy and South Korea. According to the latest reports, nearly 90,000 cases of patients infected with the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in 67 countries, including Russia. The death toll from the virus has exceeded 3,000, yet over 45,000 patients have recovered to date.