COVID-19: Hospital memo on Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong testing positive is fake

PM Lee Hsien Loong during his televised message on the COVID-19 situation on 3 April, 2020. (PHOTO: MCI)
PM Lee Hsien Loong during his televised message on the COVID-19 situation on 3 April, 2020. (PHOTO: MCI)

SINGAPORE —An “internal memo” by hospital staff making its rounds online about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong testing positive for the novel coronavirus is fake, said the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on Friday (3 April).

“We are aware of a fake memo bearing the SGH logo circulating on social media and text messaging platforms that our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (has) tested positive for COVID-19,” said the hospital on its Facebook page.

“This is totally untrue. We urge the public to be socially responsible and not to circulate this fake news.”

The fake memo, marked “restricted” and circulating online as a PDF file, was purportedly signed off by the hospital’s chief risk officer and senior consultant at the department of surgical intensive care Lim Boon Leng.

Assoc Prof Lim is also the deputy group director of education (graduate) at the SingHealth Academy.

The fake memo purported that Lee had presented to its accident and emergency department at 9.48am with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. No date was indicated in the fake memo.

“A swab test was performed at 10.12am and has tested positive for COVID-19. Second swab test to be performed shortly. PM Lee is in isolation ward currently,” it added.

“(The) care team involved, as well as non-medical personnel, (is) to report to myself or Dr Adrian Chan (department of respiratory and critical care medicine) immediately.”

The fake memo also cautioned staff members against disseminating the message to the public and that the “highest levels of disciplinary proceedings and sanctions” will apply for any breach of medical confidentiality.

Prominent figures around the world who have tested positive for the virus include British prime minister Boris Johnson, Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, as well as Israeli health minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife.

PM Lee to address nation in third speech on pandemic

Separately, Lee said on Facebook that he would be addressing the nation at 4pm on TV and radio.

The televised speech – his third on the pandemic – would also be broadcasted live on his Facebook page, he added in the post that was published less than two hours before his address.

"Since COVID-19, we have responded to the crisis calmly and systematically, planning ahead and adjusting our measures as the situation changed. The current situation is under control, but we want to take a few more steps now," said Lee.

"Let me reassure Singaporeans that our food supply is secure and adequate. Buy just what you need, and share any extra you have with those who need it. Let’s stay calm and united during this challenging period."

Lee had in his 12 March speech said that Singapore will not be “going to DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) red”. “We are not locking down our city like the Chinese, South Koreans or Italians have done.”

To date, Singapore has 1,049 cases of the virus, including 266 who have fully recovered and have been discharged. 23 remain in the intensive care unit while five have died.

Global coronavirus cases surpassed one million early Thursday morning, with more than 51,000 deaths.

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