COVID-19: False partial lockdown announcement
On 3 April 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a month-long "circuit breaker" on national television. The stay-home measures for businesses and schools were rolled out on 7 and 8 April 2020 respectively. PM Lee has not addressed the nation since then until 21 April 2020. However false news of an impending announcement on 17 April 2020 circulated on messaging channels.
Origins of the rumour
On 17 April, a rumour alleging that PM Lee would be making a COVID-19-related announcement later that day surfaced in messaging chats. Not knowing that this was fake news, some individuals interpreted these measures as a "partial lockdown" to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore. There were two main claims made in the message.
Claim 1: Official address by PM Lee on 17 April
The message alleged that PM Lee was scheduled to speak about the COVID-19 situation later that day (17 April).
Claim 2: "Partial lockdown" in Singapore
The details of the "partial lockdown" was stated as such:
(i) Singapore would supposedly be divided into four segments - North, South, East and West.
(ii) Residents belonging to one region would not be allowed to travel to another.
(iii) These boundaries would be enforced by military personnel.
Claim 1: Debunked by Gov.sg
The first claim was promptly refuted by Gov.sg on their Telegram channel. Gov.sg's Telegram and Whatsapp channels are mediums for the government to release official updates instantly and on a larger scale. These channels are managed by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI). The Gov.sg message clearly stated that PM Lee was not addressing the public on 17 April 2020.
Politician Tan Chuan-Jin reposted Gov.sg's confirmation on his Facebook page and expressed his dismay over this case of fear-mongering.
Claim 2: Debunked by the Ministry of Health (MOH)
The Ministry of Health debunked the second claim on their official website. No such lockdown measures were announced or implemented by the Singapore government in the days following 17 April 2020.
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