The police are ready to send the case file concerning an incident in which fake news spread on social media claiming that a 12-year-old had died after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine to the legal services, the force said on Tuesday.

Four people were charged over the incident and under the law – distributing fake news – they face up to two years in prison, a fine of up to €2,652 or both sentences combined.

Police spokesperson Eleni Constantinou said on Tuesday that the authorities swiftly acted once the cybercrime unit received the complaint.

“The police once more call on the public to be particularly cautious about such [social media] posts and not to spread fake news without there being an official announcement from the authorities,” Constantinou said.

“Spreading fake news and misinformation is harmful to the public,” she added.

Constantinou further stated that the complaint to the police was made by Michalis Anastasiades, president of the paediatric society of Cyprus, last Thursday.

The authorities believe one of the four suspects had uploaded the initial post on Facebook and the three others had shared it.

The post, which also claimed the death had been confirmed by “insiders”, was denied by the health ministry. Nor had any incidents involving vaccination side-effects been reported, a ministry official said.

Limassol police too could not confirm such a claim while none of the state pathologists had been asked to investigate a child’s death.