Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Moroccan police have made several arrests against people spreading fear and panic.
Rabat – Local police in the town of Souk El Arbaa, 130 kilometers north of Rabat, arrested a pedlar for spreading false rumors about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Morocco on Thursday, March 12.
The seller used a loudspeaker to spread rumors about COVID-19, claiming there are cases of the virus in the town and urging parents to stop sending their children to school, according to a press release from Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).
Police officers immediately arrested the suspect. The 32-year-old man will face charges of spreading false information and threatening the safety and security of citizens.
The arrest is in line with the government’s warnings not to spread fake news about COVID-19.
Since the global outbreak of the coronavirus, many people started sharing rumors about the virus on social media.
In response, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani warned about the dangers of spreading rumors about the virus.
False reports on the outbreak will create panic and alarm citizens, said El Othmani on February 27.
The only party authorized to communicate on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in Morocco is the Ministry of Health, he stressed.
In February, police made several arrests in Meknes, Fez, and Tetouan for the spread of rumors about COVID-19. At the time, the health ministry had not yet confirmed any infections in Morocco. Morocco confirmed its first case on March 2.
Earlier this month, security services arrested two more suspects in Marrakech for sharing videos containing false reports on the virus.
On March 9, a court in Tetouan, northern Morocco, sentenced a man arrested in February to two months in prison and a fine of MAD 2,000 ($212). The man shared a video on Facebook of himself wearing a medical mask and gloves and claiming that COVID-19 had caused several deaths in Morocco.
While authorities are making efforts to clamp down on scaremongers, they also advise citizens to develop media literacy and only believe the reports coming from official sources.