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Coronavirus: Man arrested over fake news

Protective masks, normally used for surgery, are now in use to fight Coronavirus (Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash)

A Kenyan man has been arrested over fake news on the COVID-19 patients. The man was arrested for allegedly publishing misleading and alarming information about the coronavirus outbreak in Kenya.

Crime busters from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) picked up Mr Elijah Muthui Kitonyo, 23, for publishing a viral tweet accusing the government of lying to the public about the first coronavirus case.

In his tweet, which has since been pulled down, Mr Kitonyo alleged that he works for Kenya Airways and that he knew the name of the patient confirmed as the first case in Kenya for coronavirus.

His post was widely spread across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp groups. According to the DCI the suspect will be charged with publishing false information that may cause panic, contrary to the sec. 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act 2018.

The Kenyan law states that any person who knowingly publishes false information in print, broadcast, data or over a computer system, that is calculated or results in panic, chaos, or violence among citizens, or which is likely to discredit the reputation of a person, commits an offense and is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or to imprisonment for up to 10 years or both, upon conviction.

The DCI said: “We urge members of the public to be responsible and to desist from authoring, publishing or sharing unconfirmed information that may cause panic and anxiety.”

Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna, said they had taken note of videos posted online with alarming information about the coronavirus and that the videos have been forwarded to the DCI for investigations.

The government has, at the same time, clarified that it is only using Twitter handles of the Ministry of Health (@Moh_Kenya) and the government spokesman’s (@SpokespersonGoK) to share information on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Oguna’s statement came after a video of a Kenyan woman falsely claiming to be the first patient who tested positive for coronavirus went viral.

Kenya now has a reported 8 victims infected by the novel coronavirus.

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