Another translation of an article from Diario de Sevilla about a small mountain village where a whatsapp rumor sparked mass hysteria.
Kerfuffle in Cazalla de la Sierra over Hoax* of a Couple from Madrid with Coronavirus
-A voice message distributed via Whatsapp spread the news of a possible coronavirus case in the municipality
-The mayor had to intervene to call for calm and to refute the message
Coronavirus hoaxes comprise a large part of current events. In Cazalla de la Sierra, a voice message distributed via Whatsapp and shared by a large portion of the town’s residents as well as by residents of neighboring towns like Constantina and El Pedroso has forced the mayor of the locality, Sotero Manuel Martin Barrero, to intervene through a statement and a video shared on the town hall’s social media to refute [the message] that a family from Madrid infected with coronavirus had traveled to the town. This rumor has incited “a firestorm on social media” that has sparked, in the words of the mayor, “hate speech.”
“Family, be careful because there is a dude** from Madrid who lives on Azahín Street who has the virus,” alerted the message transmitted by Whatsapp. The message goes on to say that the local police have confirmed the diagnosis and that because the person suffered from “mild symptoms” he was “sent from the hospital to his home because there aren’t enough beds.” “A neighbor from across the street told me it seems that they have a child who enters and leaves the house. So be careful, because [coronavirus] is here already,” concludes the message.
The message spread rapidly through groups of residents in the town, generating “tremendous damages” and “unnecessary alarm” in the words of the mayor, and a situation of “panic” and “stress” in the municipality, affirmed many town residents to this newspaper. Given the situation, the mayor has had to debunk the false information about the supposed existence of people who have Covid-19 in this town in the province of Seville. The councilor has issued a call for order and has asked for citizens to collaborate and not believe in fake news that circulates on the internet, given that in the municipality, in these moments, “there are zero cases in these moments.”
[Translator’s note: Here’s where the story gets more interesting.]
The mayor has acknowledged that a married couple from Madrid with a second residence in the town did come to Cazalla de la Sierra, and the wife of the couple has been hospitalized. However, even though the positive coronavirus result of this individual was confirmed in a press release, in his audiovisual message the mayor clarified that it was of a woman with a degenerative respiratory disease and that “positive or not for coronavirus” he assured the public that “she has not left her residence since arriving in the town.” The mayor insists, as well, in corrected the press release with another point of clarification that the couple “arrived before the declaration of a state of emergency.” Regarding the husband and family member’s situation, the councilor explained that “as a preventative measure, they are self-isolating in their home, are in perfect health, and are following all health protocols.”
On the other hand, the mayor Sotero Martin has issued a call this morning to all the people of the country, who have second homes in the Sierra Morena, to not try to go to those homes, as it has happened already on the weekends since the announcement of the state of emergency and national confinement. “We have asked the authorities to implement screening checkpoints on the highways to the Sierra Morena and to advertise through a multitud of media to not come here. The local police and civil guard are strictly enforcing the mobility restrictions and are imposing numerous sanctions.”
Along the same vein, the mayor of Constantina, Ruben Rivera, has pronounced that they will “reinforce controls and surveillance in this sense, and in this way curb this unnecessary and irresponsible movement.”
“The mayors of the region are very conscious of the importance and necessity of tourism and second homes in our area, but now is not the moment to go to the mountains, it is the moment to stay at home in your habitual dwelling,” he said, reminding the public that “it is the only way to slow the virus’s spread.”
“These visitors to our region have always been a help, but now they should continue helping us by not coming here during the pandemic.”
by Cristina Valdivieso
28 Marzo, 2020 – 14:06h
*Hoax is the translation of “bulo” but I don’t think it exactly applies here–because as you read in the article, someone from Madrid did indeed have coronavirus. I think the term in English that makes more sense might be something like “malicious internet gossip” or (sigh)…”fake news”
**I translated “el nota” as “dude” although the colloquialism in Spanish is much richer in meaning. The RAE has two definitions, one is “a word for a person whose name you don’t know” and the other is a “person who likes to call attention to himself and/or who behaves in socially unacceptable manner”–very accurate for this bulo!