Friends of a 16-year-old girl who was confirmed today as Malta’s fifth COVID-19 coronavirus patient have called out a vast misinformation campaign circulating on social media that she had breached self-quarantine regulations.
A photo uploaded to Instagram by the patient of a bar with the caption ‘screw quarantine’ and an Instagram comment that indicated she was visiting a friend’s house during her quarantine period have been circulating through social media today.
However, a friend of the patient told Lovin Malta that he had actually taken the ‘mirror’ photo himself on Valentine’s Day before she had even left for Italy, where she and her father are believed to have contracted the virus from.
He said she had uploaded the photo to Instagram while in quarantine as a joke, while another friend said that while she had indeed commuted to a friend’s house during her quarantine period, this friend had travelled to Italy with her and was also in quarantine taking the necessary precautions.
As for the ‘bar’ photo, the patient had taken it while on holiday in Italy.
The patient’s friend said he had posted a clarification to a popular Maltese Facebook group set up to discuss the coronavirus but that it was deleted by the group’s administrators.
“It makes my blood boil to see you gossiping and posting absolute rubbish with no sufficient proof, simply things which you are randomly linking to theories you invented of your own accord,” the post read. “Have you absolutely no shame?”
“[The patient] did NOT go to Paceville. You have ‘photo proof’ of what? A photo she posted while she was in quarantine of her out? JUST FOR A FACT CHECK: that photo was taken by me on VALENTINE’S DAY (which for those of you don’t know, took place on the 14th of February, which was before she left for Italy).”
He warned that some people have been sending the 16-year-old patient death threats while she is recovering from the virus in hospital, with some even telling her they wish she gets “the worst type of cancer possible”.
“She is going through enough with the shock of actually having the virus, she much less needs all these people attacking her and gossiping about her being sick,” he said.
“You don’t even know her or what she’s been doing, just basing all your ‘knowledge’ of the situation on the conclusions which you’re jumping to (which are by the way, completely wrong).”
He also dispelled rumours that have been spreading about the patient’s mother and brother, stating that the mother has been taking the appropriate self-quarantine precautions and that the brother hadn’t even travelled to Italy and hadn’t seen his sister and father in weeks, again due to the quarantine precautions.
“This is a family being effected. This is a girl who took precaution being bullied and threatened for no sufficient reason. So many people have been misinformed and I advise you to check your facts before you quickly make your assumptions.”
“Your misinformation and speed to gossip is becoming more of an epidemic than this virus is. Absolutely shambolic.”