Health chiefs warn public to ignore alarmist message circulated on WhatsApp

Health chiefs have warned the public to ignore a WhatsApp voice message which makes a number of alarmist claims about the coronavirus pandemic.

The message, from an unknown woman, has been dismissed by Public Health England as "fake news".

The information claims to have come from PHE, and said from Thursday ambulances will no longer be sent to those struggling to breathe, with patients expected to manage the symptoms at home.

However, both PHE and the South East Coast Ambulance Service, which is mentioned in the note, have refuted the claims.

Chief nurse at PHE Professor Viv Bennett said: "We are aware of a voice message circulating about the ambulance response to coronavirus, as well as restrictions on movement and predicted case numbers, which claims to have come from the PHE.

"This is fake news, and we would urge people to ignore the message and not share it further."

South East Coast Ambulance added: "The alarmist information being shared in the message is not correct. We would urge people to disregard the message and not share it further."

WhatsApp voice messages have become a source of disinformation throughout the pandemic, and in a bid to slow to the spread of false news, the social media platform has introduced new stricter limits on message forwarding.

Now, when users receive a message that has already been frequently forwarded, they will only be able to forward it to one chat at a time.

Previously, such messages could be forwarded to five different chats at once.

Other false claims have included those with cures to the virus and conspiracy theories linking the outbreak with 5G technology.