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Vietnamese couple fined $940 for spreading Ebola rumor

Police in Hanoi said on Friday that they had fined a local couple for spreading a rumor on Facebook that an infection of the Ebola virus, which has killed over 1,427 people in West Africa, had occurred in the Vietnamese capital.

Police in Hanoi said on Friday that they had fined a local couple for spreading a rumor on Facebook that an infection of the Ebola virus, which has killed over 1,427 people in West Africa, had occurred in the Vietnamese capital.
Police in Hanoi said on Friday that they had fined a local couple for spreading a rumor on Facebook that an infection of the Ebola virus, which has killed over 1,427 people in West Africa, had occurred in the Vietnamese capital.

Vuong Ba Huy, 31, and his wife, 29-year-old Do Thuy Linh, have been fined VND10 million ($472) each for posting false “warnings” on their  Facebook pages on August 11 and 12 that a Vietnamese person had been infected with the deadly Ebola virus and was being treated at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi.

Linh also posted similar information on the Facebook page of a group called “the Vietnamese Breastfeeding Association.”

“Urgent news: The Ebola virus has appeared in Vietnam, at the Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital… Be careful to protect yourself and your families from the Ebola infection,” Linh wrote on her Facebook page.

The frightening rumor then spread rapidly among local Facebook users, drawing numerous comments from readers and causing great public concern, police said.

After an investigation, police concluded that the information was completely wrong, and summoned Huy and Linh for questioning.

The couple then admitted to police that they had posted the information in an effort to warn everybody about the Ebola virus.

With their actions, the couple committed administrative violations in the fields of post, telecommunications, information technology and radio frequency, pursuant to Governmental Decree 174, said Colonel Duong Van Giap, head of Hanoi’s Social Crime Investigation Department.

No sign of an Ebola infection has been found in Vietnam thus far. However, local agencies are taking all necessary measures to prevent an appearance of the deadly virus, which could be brought in by visitors coming from the areas of West Africa where the epidemic began, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.

According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola outbreak continues to spread across several West African nations, with 142 more cases recently recorded, bringing the total to 2,615, with 1,427 deaths as of Thursday.

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a highly dangerous virus that has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, and it has an incubation period of two to 21 days, said the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.

The EVD is often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat, the ministry added.