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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Canberrans urged to ignore COVID conspiracies

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has urged Canberrans not to believe COVID-19 conspiracy theories, after a misinformation campaign circulated in Garran this week.

Many of the suburb’s residents reported receiving a flyer in their mailboxes, with several claims including the virus could spread through Canberra’s water supply and a vaccine would include a human tracking device.

Ms Stephen-Smith said she was “beyond disappointed” in the claims but was confident Canberrans were educated enough to see through the misinformation.

We are obviously really disappointed and concerned. In some ways it’s not a bad thing that it’s so outrageous that it is completely unbelievable, it is absolutely clear that this is conspiracy theory to the nth degree,” she said.

“I think most Canberrans would know much better than to believe this misinformation.”

Many conspiracies have surrounded the COVID-19 pandemic globally, with some protests claiming the virus is not real or is linked to 5G technology.

Ms Stephen-Smith said they had encountered a small number of those comments online.

We have seen small protest and other conspiracies like the connecting between COVID-19 and 5G and this particular flyer points to the UN agenda 21 conspiracy,” she said.

“We have seen those kinds of comments coming through in social media as well.”

Ms Stephen-Smith urged the community to take all health advice from the appropriate sources.

We are encouraging people to listen to the official health advice and the advice is COVID-19 is serious, it is real, and people should be tested even if they only have the mildest of symptoms,” she said.

“All our testing centres are set up with the highest standards of infection control and there is no risk to the surrounding community of being near a testing centre or going and getting tested.”

The misinformation campaign has been referred to ACT Policing.

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