An appeal is being made to members of the public to desist from spreading rumours on social media about the country’s fifth COVID-19 fatality Victor Mootiram and his family. A close friend of the family, using her Facebook name Abbey KC, told Guardian Media yesterday that several false WhatsApp voice notes have been causing Mootiram’s family more grief and stress during this difficult time.
“Please stop. This is really affecting his family, “ she pleaded.
Debunking some of the erroneous information being circulated, she said Mootiram’s family is currently in self-quarantine at their Garth Road, Williamsville home and not warded at the Couva Hospital. They have been tested and are awaiting results.
“None of them are sick at this time. It is not true that his daughter died because he does not have a daughter. They are saying that a doubles vendor is sick and is in the hospital, that is also not true. He is at his home,” she said.
Mootiram, she added, did attend a relative’s funeral at the beginning of March but none of the other relatives who attended are ill.
Abbey KC said another false claim is that he had a party with about 200 guests at his home. She said a few days before Mootiram’s relative died, she celebrated her birthday at the end of February with relatives from abroad, but he did not attend and the celebration was not held at his home.
“It is still a mystery how he contracted the virus.”
She said two weeks before he died he had a runny nose and a slight cough which did not last, but he had body pains and was weak.
“He did not have the symptoms of COVID-19 but two weeks later when he got to the point that he was so weak he could not lift himself, they took him to the San Fernando General Hospital. It’s only when he got there they found out he was positive. He was admitted on Monday and within 24 hours he died,” she said.
Mootiram, she added, was a member of the Garth Road Open Bible Church and was well-loved in the community. However, she said since attending the last service on March 15 before the church was closed as a result of COVID-19 precautions, he remained at home.
“It is also not true that there were members of the army, police and health officials in the community after he died. Please be compassionate and think about the pain you are causing his family by these false rumours,” Abbey KC appealed.
One of the voice notes also claimed that Butterflake Bakery, which is located in the community, was shut down because Mootiram was in the store two or three times prior to his death. That claim, according to a health official, is totally false. The official said the management took a decision to close the bakery based on a recommendation from health officials due to the failure of some customers to practice social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions. In a letter to employees dated April 3, CEO Henry Subratee stated that they were instructed by the health authority to cease operations. Re-opening of business, he said, will depend on the severity of the virus and health officials. Expressing condolences to the Mootiram family, Subratee urged them not to join with irresponsible social media users to “disseminate information which are inaccurate and unfounded.”
As instructed by the chief public health inspector, the health official said they have been visiting all essential businesses which are open at this time to ensure that they and their customers are following proper guidelines and recommendations to curb the spread of the virus.