FAKE NEWS | No, helicopters won't be spraying coronavirus chemicals - govt

The panic over the novel coronavirus has brought with it hoaxes and fake news that have been spreading as fast as the virus itself. 

A post on a Facebook group titled President Ramaphosa SA, posted on Wednesday evening, urged South Africans to stay indoors at 10:00 on Thursday because "there will be helicopters spraying chemicals solutions the whole South Africa (sic)".  

It urged people to share this message, and more than 8 000 people have so far happily complied. 

The page, which was created on 15 March, creates the impression that it is posting on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, and is followed by nearly 80 000 people. 

On Thursday morning, the South African government tweeted from its official, verified Twitter account that the post was indeed fake. 

"Stop spreading #FakeNews and misleading information. Verify the information before you share information," its tweet read.

Criminals posing as officials

Meanwhile, Netcare urged members of the public to be vigilant of criminals pretending to be officials under the guise of conducting Covid-19 home screenings.

"Please note that staff members from the Netcare Group, including from Netcare hospitals, Netcare 911 or Medicross medical and dental centres, are NOT doing door-to-door Covid-19 screenings," Netcare said in a statement on Monday.

CORONAVIRUS LIES | Debunking the hoaxes around Covid-19

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has also warned the public about bogus officials who go around collecting cash "contaminated" with the novel coronavirus from unsuspecting people.

The SARB says it is not withdrawing banknotes and coins because of the pandemic.

Screenshots of News24 articles have also been photoshopped and widely shared on social media.

In addition, Western Cape police on Tuesday denied that its police stations in Cape Town would close as a result of the novel coronavirus.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said reports on social media to that effect were "fake news".

To stay abreast of News24's rolling coverage on the Covid-19 outbreak, follow this link to our dedicated coronavirus site.

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