Batang, C Java (ANTARA) - The police in Batang District, Central Java Province, pledged to trace those creating and proliferating hoaxes on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on social media platforms and to act sternly against them.

"We demand that community members not spread hoaxes since violators will be subject to legal sanctions as stipulated in the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law," Batang Police Chief Adjunct Sen. Coms. Abdul Waras stated here on Wednesday.

The ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared as a global pandemic is a common problem for Indonesians that necessitates all to respond wisely, he emphasized.

Waras affirmed he will delve deeper to gain clarity on the hoax on a COVID-19 case being circulated on social media platforms.

Speaking in connection with this COVID-19 hoax issue, Head of the Indonesian Press Council Muhammad Nuh recently urged all media outlets across the country to furnish credible information on COVID-19 to the people at large to offer a broader understanding on ways to handle the impact of the virus and to battle stress arising from the outbreak.

"The media must be able to persuade the people to participate in spreading accurate and credible information on COVID-19," he stated.

The public’s participation in dealing with the impact of this COVID-19 case was deemed crucial, so that the people, at large, can take the right preventive measures against the deadly virus, he stated.

In selecting news sources, journalists are suggested to choose credible ones based on the basic principles of ethical journalism to prevent them from disseminating disinformation on COVID-19, Nuh noted.

As the government works to deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Communication and Informatics Ministry had reported that during the period from January to March 10, some 187 novel coronavirus hoaxes had circulated in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government has put in place precautionary measures since the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak that first struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December 2019.

In addition to installing thermal scanners at the country's airports and seaports, as well as making preparations at hospitals across the archipelago, the Indonesian government repatriated several hundred citizens.

On February 2, a total of 238 Indonesian nationals were airlifted from Wuhan, China, to then be quarantined in Natuna District's Riau Islands Province. All these Indonesians were found to be healthy and were then reunited with their families.

The Indonesian government also repatriated 188 Indonesians employed as crew members of the cruise ship World Dream Liner and 69 Indonesians employed as cabin crew on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The World Dream cruise ship's crew members and 69 cabin crew of the Diamond Princess had been sent to Sebaru Kecil Island, Jakarta's Thousand Islands, for a 14-day quarantine.

On March 2, 2020, President Jokowi declared that two Indonesians had tested positive for COVID-19. They were quarantined in an isolated room at the Jakarta-based Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital.

As of early this week, the number of COVID-19 patients in Indonesia had reached at least 134, as the virus has spread to several regions, including Jakarta, Bandung, Tangerang, Solo, Yogyakarta, Bali, Manado, and Pontianak.

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Translator: Kutnadi, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
Copyright © ANTARA 2020