Here’s when not checking your sources and spreading fake news can have serious implications.
Recently, a young Malaysian student studying in the United Kingdom was thought to have died from COVID-19 after a video of him was circulated via Whatsapp.
In the video posted on his Instagram account, a 22-year-old Malaysian student, Samson Hoo Chuan Zhu, was seen gasping for air, and claiming he may have contracted the coronavirus after attending an event organised by Malaysian students in Manchester on March 14.
In the two-minute 45-second video clip, Hoo said he might have been infected by the virus as he had lost his sense of smell for the past six days and he could hardly breathe.
Photo: Instagram Samson
“My condition is getting worse day by day, and it is not looking good,” he said in the video.
As Hoo did not have any other symptoms of the virus, he claimed that he couldn’t get access to healthcare in the United Kingdom and was told to just stay home.
At the time he made the video, he hadn't yet been tested. He had however called the ambulance a day prior to making the video as his condition worsened. He waited for 3 hours for the ambulance to come, only to be told that he couldn’t be taken to the hospital for further treatment as he did not carry any symptoms of the virus.
“There’s nothing I could do right now, except to stay home. I’m not kidding guys, this is not a joke, I am very scared and I'm overseas right now,” he said before ending the video.
The video has since been taken down after it went viral and caused panic among parents, students and the Malaysian community. Rumors started spreading that he may have died.
Photo: Instagram Samson
He clarified in a statement posted on his Instagram that he did not expect the video to have gone viral, and did not mean to alarm anyone.
Speaking to the News Strait Times, Hoo said he was scheduled to fly back to Malaysia on March 23. However, on March 21, he had a runny nose and completely lost his sense of smell.
“I didn’t have a blocked nose but I thought it could be an allergy to pollen and I started taking pills for allergy,” he said.
His condition then developed into breathing complications in just 5 days.
“My breathing became heavier and I realised my face had turned bluish. I called for an Uber to take me to the Manchester Royal Infirmary and was taken to the Emergency entrance, the entrance for people who are infected,” Hoo said.
His temperature and heart rate were checked outside the hospital premises.
“I was asked several questions and I told them that I had no underlying health issues. By then, my breathing had become normal. I told them about the loss of smell. They dismissed me and told me to return if my breathing became worse,” added Hoo.
He returned home only to have the breathing complications again at midnight. He then called an ambulance to come pick him up and it wasn’t until 3:40 am that the paramedic called him and denied him treatment at the hospital.
“I was breathing a lot better but could only answer a few words at a time. They said the fact that I was able to speak meant that they were unable to send an ambulance,” said Hoo remembering the night of the incident.
It was then that he decided to make the video on Instagram to vent out his frustration.
He later removed it on the advice of the Malaysian Student Society of Manchester and the United Kingdom & Eire Council for Malaysian Students to reduce panic.
Hoo has not yet been tested, but has self-quarantined himself for several days. He plans to fly back to Malaysia soon, citing reasons such as the lack of adequate testing in the country as well as racist marks coming from the public who accused him of spreading the virus.
By: Siti Farhana Sheikh Yahya