FALSE: 'SARS' case reported in clinic at Shangri-La Plaza

Claim: A chain message circulated on Tuesday, January 14, warning people to avoid going to Shangri-La Plaza, a mall in Mandaluyong City, because of a supposed case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) reported in one of the mall's medical clinics.

"From a friend: Just have an info huhu may friend si papa na doctor sa Healthway Shangri-La tinawagan siya just now... AVOID GOING DAW MUNA SA EDSA SHANG MALL. Nagkapatient siya this morning galing from business trip from China. Nagpacheck up then meron SARS huhu so super contagious daw even Healthway reported it sa admin ng Shang," the message read.

(From a friend: Just have info, my dad's friend who's a doctor at Healthway Shangri-La just called him and warned us to avoid going to the mall. One of his patients who came back from a business trip in China was diagnosed with SARS this morning. He said it's super contagious and even Healthway has reported it to the Shangri-La management.)

The message continued: "Now ayaw ilabas publicly pero pinapalinis ng Shang buong 5th floor near Healthway. But sabi ng doctor it can be passed on by simply sa nahawakan na buttons sa elevator, doorknobs, and other things. As per the doctor na friend ni papa wala daw mask 'yung patient niya kanina 'cause he didn't know na SARS, so possibly via air pwede din."

(Now the mall management doesn't want to announce it to the public but they're cleaning the whole 5th floor, where Healthway is located. But my dad's doctor friend said it can be passed on through contaminated material, such as elevator buttons and doorknobs. He said the patient didn't wear a mask earlier because they did not know yet that it was SARS, so the virus could also be spread by airborne transmission.)

The message was circulated via private messaging. At least two Facebook posts are also available online – one from Facebook page Vic Sotto (unofficial, not owned and not managed by the actor) and one from a personal account. Neither named the original source of the information.

A reader sent the message to Rappler via Facebook for verification.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The Department of Health (DOH) and Healthway Medical both issued advisories denying the claim in the chain message.

On Wednesday, January 15, the DOH said through its official social media accounts that the circulating message is "fake" and assured the public that there is no reason to panic.

Healthway Medical also released a statement on Tuesday that said there has been "no reported case of SARS in any Healthway clinic including Shangri-La branch." The clinic also urged the public to verify information they find online before spreading them.

Last January 3, health authorities from the Chinese city of Wuhan confirmed 44 cases of a mystery viral disease that has sparked fears about a resurgence of SARS.

Following this, the DOH said it would be closely watching "all seaports and airports" and would be on high alert. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also ordered strong surveillance of incoming travelers from China.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization warned that the new China coronavirus could spread. The organization said "limited human-to-human transmission" is possible especially among families, but no sustained human-to-human transmission has been reported so far.

This is the second chain message about malls that Rappler has debunked in January 2020. Last Sunday, January 12, a false claim circulated that SM Mall of Asia has a "damaged foundation" following the eruption of the Taal Volcano– Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.