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A barangay official in Marikina City faces charges for allegedly spreading erroneous information related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that sparked panic among residents.

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro made the statement after Barangay Tumana Chairman Ziffred Ancheta announced in a Facebook Live on Thursday that a resident of the barangay has been infected with the coronavirus.

“However, such erroneous information given by the barangay chairman was immediately debunked by the Marikina City Health Office (CHO), and the Rescue 161,” the statement read.

City Health Officer Dr. Alberto Herrera said the resident, a security guard working at Greenhills, San Juan City, was only considered a person under investigation (PUI) and has not tested positive for the disease.

Citing the COVID-19 Policy and Protocol, Herrera noted that the vital information of a patient should not be disclosed, adding that only the Department of Health (DOH) can disclose the information of patients that have tested positive for COVID-19.

In his letter to the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Marikina, Rescue 161 Chief Dave David said the actions of Ancheta were “in direct violation of the protocol set forth by the DOH in informing the public about COVID-19 case thereby causing fear, panic, and trauma to residents of Barangay Tumana.”

Following the incident, Teodoro has appealed to the public to be responsible in sharing information on social media.

“I am urging everyone to be responsible when posting on social media, especially about COVID-19,” the city mayor said. “This is not the time for panic. During these trying times, we must come together as one family and help each other.”

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