Teaching hospital in Antigua denies cases of coronavirus

The Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) is warning against the sharing of misinformation about the coronavirus (COVID-19) insisting that “to date, there has been no confirmed case of the coronavirus in Antigua and Barbuda”.

The 185-bed teaching hospital said that since mid-January it has been sharing information on what people can do to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus.

“We have to stay focused on our goal, which is keeping people safe and helping those who need care.”

“Regrettably, there are some people who are sharing information about the virus and our hospital which is false. Unfortunately, we will not be able to respond to every social media post but we thought it was important for the hospital to address this matter broadly in an effort to prevent any hysteria,” the health institution said in a statement.

It said fighting misinformation is a joint-effort and “we have to stay focused on our goal, which is keeping people safe and helping those who need care. We cannot do it alone. We need you to remain vigilant. Misinformation during this time can lead to paranoia and increased stigmatization and more seriously, people being left at risk”.

MSJMC said that one recent example is an online post being circulated which “incorrectly states that there’s a patient with the coronavirus at our hospital and there’s an attempt to keep this (Antigua’s first coronavirus case) from the public.

“Unreliable and unproven information can be harmful to vulnerable and at-risk groups in our community. Do not share it.”

“To date, there has been no confirmed case of the coronavirus in Antigua & Barbuda. However, if this should change, please know that we are taking every precaution to ensure that we can provide all patients including those with possible COVID-19, with the highest quality care while protecting staff, other patients and visitors.”

The hospital said that to the persons creating these messages, “we ask that you stop. Misinformation during a health crisis poses the greatest immediate threat to those who read it. It is dangerous.

“We all need to work together to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe”

“To the public; unreliable and unproven information can be harmful to vulnerable and at-risk groups in our community. Do not share it. Accurate information about how to keep you and your family safe is being provided by MSJMC, Ministry of Health Wellness & the Environment and international organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).”

But MSJMC said “sadly, this type of misinformation is part of the fabric of today’s internet but it’s not without profound consequences. We all need to work together to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe”.