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Coronavirus email hoax led to violent protests in Ukraine

Coronavirus email hoax led to violent protests in Ukraine


Protestors blocked the arrival of evacuees from China

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Photo by MAKSYM MYKHAILYK/AFP via Getty Images

An email that appeared to come from Ukraine’s ministry of health containing false information about coronavirus cases in the country led to a number of violent protests and standoffs with police, reports BuzzFeed News.

The email originated from outside Ukraine, according to a government statement, and it falsely claimed there were five cases of coronavirus in the country. In reality, there have been zero reported cases of the virus in Ukraine. But the email was sent the same day evacuees from China landed in the country, and some Ukranian residents protested the evacuees’ arrival by blocking roads that led to medical facilities and, in some cases, by smashing the windows of the buses carrying those evacuees.

Ukrainian authorities released a statement saying the reports were not true

To try and calm citizens, Ukraine’s Center for Public Health released a statement saying reports of five cases of coronavirus were false, and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky published a Facebook post saying the evacuees were all healthy and that they would be quarantined for two weeks out of extra caution. Zelensky also urged citizens not to block their arrival.

There have only been two confirmed cases of Ukrainians with the coronavirus, and they are among many who have been infected while on the cruise ship that was docked off the coast of Japan. They have fully recovered, reports BuzzFeed News.

With so many people searching for information online about coronavirus, there is continued risk that people may come across misinformation and hoaxes about the disease, especially on social networks like Facebook and Twitter that are ill-equipped to handle fast-changing global news events and the flood of user-generated posts that accompany them. Recode has put together a good summary of some of the most pervasive corona virus hoaxes that have been widely shared. And we also have a guide about how to investigate information online and determine if it’s false or misleading.