A trick link is currently making the rounds on social media, fronting as a report about the Marikina City Health Office confirming it had “two positive novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) patients.”
It’s a hoax.
Facebook (FB) detected the fake link to have first surfaced on Jan. 31, and has been viewed over 670,000 times. When viewed on FB, the link shows its host URL is “gmaworldwide.tv” and bears the headline, “Just In: Marikina Health Office says two test positive for coronavirus.”
When opened, the link leads to a porn site.
There have been no reports of positive 2019-nCoV cases in Marikina. So far, there have only been three confirmed patients in the Philippines announced by the Department of Health (DOH): a 38-year-old Chinese woman who has since been discharged from the hospital, her 44-year-old male companion who died on Feb. 2, and a 60-year-old woman who has returned to China after recovering.
The first two patients were confined at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila while the third patient consulted a clinic in Bohol before being allowed to leave via Cebu upon recovery.
The same day the hoax started circulating on Facebook, Marikina Valley Medical Center, a private tertiary hospital in Marikina, denied in a Jan. 31 statement that there were persons under investigation (PUIs) or confirmed cases of the nCoV in their hospital. The Marikina City Health Office FB page does not carry any information on confirmed cases among its constituency.
The hoax link falsely pretends to lead to the website of GMA Worldwide, Inc., a subsidiary of broadcasting giant GMA Network. The company’s official website, however, is under construction.
The fake link surfaced the same day DOH announced the Philippines’ first confirmed case of the newly discovered virus. Declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization, it has affected over 67,000 people worldwide and has killed 1,526 as of Feb. 15.