Seven people have been arrested in Tibet’s Chamdo prefecture on charges of spreading rumors and misinformation about the spread of the new coronavirus, Chinese state media reports say.
One individual from Chamdo’s Gonjo county only identified as Chen allegedly posted a comment online on Jan. 29 saying a secret influx of people from mainland China to the locality was, “causing panic among Chamdo netizens,” the People’s Daily reported on Feb. 5.
He was taken into custody and sentenced to 10 days’ detention and fined 500 yuan (about U.S. $72) the outlet said.
In Tengchen county, a man called Tse was arrested for a message posted on popular social media platform WeChat calling on people to recite a prayer 10 times and to pass the prayer on to another 10 people.
“The Tengchen County Public Security Bureau punished the man with a term of administrative detention of seven days, according to the law,” the People’s Daily said.
“The posting of information and remarks online must comply with relevant laws and regulations,” the state-controlled paper quoted the county’s Public Security Bureau as saying in a notice urging people not to “create rumors, believe rumors, or spread rumors.”
The number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in China’s Tibetan-populated areas had risen to 48 as of last weekend, according to state media, with 23 being reported in Sichuan’s Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
The virus has killed more than 1,100 people, all but two in mainland China, as reported Feb. 12.
Meanwhile a teashop owner in the Tibetan capital Lhasa was fined on Feb. 5 for defying a government order closing all discos, cyber cafes, tea shops, and movie theaters in a bid to contain the virus, RFA reported.
The online portal also reported that Tibetan monks were collecting donations at the Labrang monastery in Gansu’s Sangchu county and distributing thousands of face masks in Kardze’s Tawu in efforts to try and curb the spread of the virus.
“We can only hope that we can be of some help in preventing [the further spread of] this epidemic,” the monk said.