Freedom of the press

Pakistanis advised not to heed ‘Alberta and Patrick King’ WhatsApp story

Days after the Canadian province of Alberta said it is dropping quarantine requirements for close contacts of COVID-19 cases, social media websites and WhatsApp groups in Pakistan are flooded with Urdu translation of a so-called court verdict as some users stressed the need for waging a legal battle against the government to lift COVID-19 lockdowns.

An Urdu language translation of a text reportedly published by Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms on jccf.ca is being circulated in Pakistan with claims that a Canadian court while hearing a complaint filed by Patrick King has declared the novel coronavirus as “Flue Virus” ending the status of the disease as a pandemic.

The translation gives the impression that Patrick King is some kind of an expert who knew from the beginning that the spread of coronavirus is not a pandemic.

After detailing a purported conversation between the judge and Mr Patrick, the viral message calls on Pakistanis to start a struggle while following the footsteps of the Canadian citizen to get rid of the COVID-restrictions in Pakistan.

The message fails to mention the fact that Alberta’s Chief medical officer Deena Hinshaw told a news conference in late July the province needs to scale back the focus on COVID-19 so resources can be deployed to tackle other respiratory illnesses that are likely to climb in the fall.

Pakistani experts have warned people against spreading disinformation as it could prove detrimental for the country’s war against COVID-19

“COVID is not over, we just need to integrate how we manage it into how we manage other illnesses as well,” she said, while urging Albertans to get vaccinated. So far, 64% of Albertans have had two shots.

On August 4, Hinshaw apologized for causing “confusion, fear or anger” after communicating the province’s plan to lift its remaining COVID-19 public health measures.

In a column sent to various media outlets Wednesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said her words have caused some people to think she believes COVID-19 is over.

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