As fears over the coronavirus continue to build, fake news has resulted in a riot in Ukraine even though there's no confirmed cases there. As over 70 people were evacuated from China over the virus outbreak, locals clashed with the authorities after an email claiming there was five confirmed cases in the country was sent to the Ministry of Health's contact list.
Locals reportedly threw rocks at buses transporting the evacuees from China despite the police escort, smashing some of the windows. Some protestors in the village of Novi Sanzhary set up makeshift barricades, some of which were on fire, blocking the road to the sanitarium in which the evacuees were to be quarantined. The buses eventually made it to the site of quarantine, but the journey took much longer than expected, the Guardian reports.
Even though the email appeared to have been sent by the Ministry of Health, it was actually sent from outside the country, the Security Service of Ukraine confirmed. Only two Ukraine residents have been infected with coronavirus, although they have already recovered and are currently on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan. As BuzzFeed News points out, a similar panic over the virus recently happened in India.
Ukrainian authorities assured locals that passengers on board the flight from China had been screened for the virus twice before they boarded, but protesters persisted. One civilian and nine police were hospitalized following the chaos. "The situation is rather heated," said Poltava's police spokesman Yuri Sulayev. Legislators from the village of Novi Sanzhary said they will continue to oppose the evacuation, citing fears that the government was "putting the health and life of local residents at risk."
More untruths started to spread as the riots took place, with some asserting that local hospital staff had fled the building in fear of being infected.
Confirmed cases in mainland China have continued to climb, but at a slower rate than they had previously. Concerns have continued to build elsewhere in Asia, however, as South Korea's number of confirmed cases jumped dramatically to 156 in the past week. The coronavirus death toll has risen to 2,247, with 2,236 of those happening mainland China.