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False: This video does not show a family killed by the coronavirus amid China’s multi-city lockdown

ANNIE
ANNIE
Feb 13 · 3 min read

By Annie Lab Team

A video purportedly showing family members lying dead and left unattended due to the novel coronavirus has been widely circulating on social media platforms since earlier this month.

Between Facebook (also here) and YouTube, the video has been viewed close to 100,000 times with thousands of shares and comments.

The claim is false.

Annie Lab found the same video posted by other accounts on Youtube and Twitter as early as Dec 31, 2019, — 23 days before the Chinese government locked down Wuhan and neighboring cities in an attempt to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The earlier posts claim to show a rural family in Hebei Province who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after the local government forced residents to adopt “smokeless coal” for household use.

Coal is still commonly used for heating and cooking in most rural areas in Northern China.

The video clip’s watermark indicates that it was originally posted by a user on Sina Weibo, whose page can no longer be found.

However, a news article on China’s popular news portal Sina reported that the person behind the Weibo account was arrested for “spreading rumors” after posting the video on Sina Weibo on Dec. 31, claiming the family of four in Zhangjiakou, Hebei, died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by “smokeless coal.”

Local police quoted in the story said no such event took place in the specified location, but provided no further details on the case.

However, Chinese news outlet 澎湃新聞 (the Paper) has been reporting cases of carbon monoxide-related deaths in other parts of Hebei Province where “smokeless coal” was promoted by local governments.

Since the video in question was filmed on or earlier than Dec. 31, 2019, at which time the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported only 27 pneumonia cases of an “unknown cause,” and because the original post did not mention anything about the novel coronavirus outbreak, Annie Lab concludes that the claim the family in the video died of coronavirus during the lockdown is false.

Disclaimer: This is a student work. Although JMSC faculty members have done everything possible to verify its accuracy, we cannot guarantee there are no mistakes. If you notice an error or have any questions, please email us at contact@annieasia.org.

annie lab

Fact-checking project @ Journalism & Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Asian Network of News & Information Educators (ANNIE).

ANNIE

Written by

ANNIE

Official account of Asian Network of News & Information Educators

annie lab

annie lab

Fact-checking project @ Journalism & Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Asian Network of News & Information Educators (ANNIE).

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