The Lao government has publicly debunked misinformation about the identities of COVID-19 patients in Laos.
The Mass Media Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MOICT) has issued a statement on its Facebook Page that pictures circulating on both public and private social media channels regarding the identities of recently admitted COVID-19 cases in Laos, namely, cases 16, 17, and 18, are not factually accurate.
It appears that malicious wrongdoers had purposely sought out provocative pictures of foreign female internet celebrities and started to distribute them online. It was only a matter of hours before they were able to circulate wildly on the public feeds and private group chats of Lao netizens.
When Laos announced its 16th case, a picture of a woman with the number 16 on it had been profusely shared. Due to the sexual appeal of the photograph, thousands of people had viewed and shared it along with several other provocative pictures of the same person. It turned out that the woman has been identified as a popular Thai online celebrity, Pattaraya Chayakonnan, with almost half a million followers on Facebook.
A few days later, alledged pictures of cases 17 and 18 were also circulated wildly. MOICT has also debunked these photographs, which were taken from the social media profiles of two Vietnamese internet celebrities.
The PM’s Order On Intensifying Countermeasures Against COVID-19 in Laos strictly prohibits the creation and distribution of fake news. Anyone caught posting or sharing misinformation could face up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to LAK 20 million (approximately USD 2,000).