Britain sets up team to tackle coronavirus disinformation

Britain's Secretary of State for Digital Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden is seen outside Downing Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government said on Monday it had set up a team to tackle "interference and disinformation" around the spread of coronavirus.

Britain has so far confirmed 273 cases of the virus and three deaths. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is chairing a meeting of the government's emergency committee on Monday to discuss possible measures to try to delay the spread.

The government said the counter-disinformation team would try to establish the extent and impact of false or manipulated information aimed at misleading people "either for the purposes of causing harm, or for political, personal or financial gain".

It will then aim to identify and respond to disinformation where necessary.

"Defending the country from misinformation and digital interference is a top priority," Digital and Culture Minister Oliver Dowden said in a statement.

"This work includes regular engagement with the social media companies, which are well placed to monitor interference and limit the spread of disinformation, and will make sure we are on the front foot to act if required."

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)