A Whatsapp group message came in at dinner time, warning Abu Dhabi residents to stay away from public places (malls, parks, beaches, etc.) for the coming 72 hours due to the “fast spreading” corona virus.
Apparently it’s fake. As someone who was in Beijing during SARS, I remember parks were on the safe list. So should beaches.
After a few clicks on Google, I saw the same message on expatwoman.com forum as well. Some there criticized the thread starter, but sadly, some people were apparently deeply concerned of this “fast spreading disease” caused by “killing corona virus”.
This is the second time I received rumors on Whatsapp since I downloaded it a couple of months ago. Last time was in Feb, a message sent out to all the members in one of my groups said our Whatsapp accounts were going to become inactive and all the contacts would get lost unless we forward this bilingual (English & Arabic) warning message to all of our contacts. But after some simple research on Google, I found an offcial statement by Whatsapp from 2012 regarding this specific rumor, saying “It is a hoax. Really, it is.” I was surprised rumors like this could circulate for years and some people tend to forward it without double checking.
BTW, I also found through my research that in the UAE, spreading rumors on social media could land you 3-10 YEARS in jail. See this Huffington Post article: Tweeting Rumors Can Land You Three Years in Jail.
Can you reach a website called Google? Use it.