Minister falls victim to ‘moronic’ Covid prank — Analysis
A positive Covid-19 test was logged under a senior Australian health official’s name
Brad Hazzard, the health minister of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), said people are undermining pandemic response efforts by registering fake positive Covid test results.
A system that was implemented in NSW last Wednesday requires people to log their rapid antigen testing results online using a state-run application or website. Officials can track the spread and adjust the response to pandemics by using this measure.
However, someone decided to misuse the system to prank the state’s top health official, as Hazzard himself revealed on Tuesday.
“Some people think it’s a joke. Or maybe it’s worse than that – perhaps, it’s malicious,”Reporters were confronted by a clearly angry Hazzard. “I can now speak from personal experience. I received notification yesterday and again today… that apparently somebody has put my name in there.”
“First of all, it’s extremely irresponsible,”Minister. “It is juvenile, it is moronic, but it is also just so disappointing to think that you would actually undermine an incredible, hard-working public health team here in New South Wales trying to keep us safe.”
Police launched an investigation into the fake test results under Hazzard’s name. “Not only is this a nuisance, it also corrupts valuable pandemic data relied upon to support essential services. This is not a joke and is a criminal offence,” Detective Superintendent Matt Craft, the state’s cybercrime squad commander, said.
A AU$1,000 penalty ($720) for failing to report a positive rapid-antigen test result.
Australian Associated Press reports that more than 50,000 NSW residents have logged their results in just hours.
Authorities reported 77 new deaths from Covid across NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and the Canberra capital territory on Tuesday – the highest daily death toll in Australia since the pandemic began.
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