A bizarre host of reasons have supposedly been offered by people in a cohort of more than 10,000 refusing to be tested for the coronavirus in Victoria.
Perhaps the most disturbing theory is that health workers are using nasal swabbing tests to implant microchips into the back of people’s throat as part of a “plandemic” funded by Bill Gates.
“There’s no pandemic! What we’re really doing is implanting Bill Gates’ microchip. The Gates Foundation is paying $25k per implanted chip,” a post to Facebook last month read.
The post, shared nearly 10,000 times, included a diagram of a person’s head and a swab down their throat with an arrow pointing to the back of the throat saying “implant microchip here”.
Similar messages have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on the social media platform, indicating a concerning trend among the population both in the United States and Australia.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - which has committed more than $300 million to coronavirus response efforts - dismissed the Facebook posts, saying by email that “this claim is false.”
Health authorities last week revealed parents with small children had refused to have them tested over concerns for the process causing them distress and pain.
Since then however, more possible reasons have emerged, including people fearing a positive test could cause them financial losses due to being forced to take time off work.
While health authorities work through the theories to determine what might have caused Victoria's second virus peak, the government is also working to bring their COVID-19 message to every community.
Jenny Mikakos on Friday revealed more than 10,000 people have refused to be tested amid a suburban testing blitz that started on June 25.
“Now that might be for a range of reasons including that they may have already been tested in a different location - we are analysing that data,” she said.
“It is concerning that the reports that I have received are that some people believe that coronavirus is a conspiracy or that it won't impact on them.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority requested that digital platforms including Facebook, Google and TikTok develop an industry code to address the spreading of misinformation.
The ACMA said fake news on the pandemic had seen people get sick or property damaged.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said misinformation online was even more harmful to vulnerable Australians.
“The government expects the digital platforms will work constructively with the ACMA to set up long-term, transparent and accountable practices,” Mr Fletcher said.
He said freedom of speech would still be protected and social media giants wouldn't become the arbiters of truth.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.