VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte DID NOT open PGH for Wuhan COVID-19 patients

Website City News (ab-tc.com), which has been flagged earlier this month for spreading disinformation on the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has published another false report, this time claiming President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to accept COVID-19 patients from Wuhan, China -- the center of the virus outbreak.

The false Feb. 8 article bore the headline “Duterte goes to China’s aid; Philippine General Hospital to receive coronavirus patients from Wuhan.” It was published a week after the Philippine government imposed a ban on travelers from China and its special administrative regions, Macau and Hong Kong, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Accompanied by an April 2019 Reuters photo of Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping, City News claimed Duterte “has gone to the aid of China” and “offered” the state-owned PGH to accept COVID-19 cases from Wuhan.

This is not true.

Duterte’s speeches prior to the publication of City News’ false report have made no mention of PGH being used for Chinese patients with COVID-19. Neither have legitimate news media organizations reported on this.

The president himself ordered last Feb. 2 a ban on the entry of individuals travelling from China, except Filipinos, to contain the spread of the coronavirus. This remains in effect.

Additionally, the last three paragraphs of City News' false article were lifted from a Jan. 28 report by British tabloid The Daily Mail about Europe’s first four cases of human-to-human transmitted 2019-nCoV. But the plagiarized copy changed The Daily Mail’s figures on human-to-human transmission cases outside China from seven to 13.

As of Feb. 15, there are over 67,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, with more than 68,500 coming from Mainland China alone. Recorded deaths due to the virus stand at 1,670 worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins case tracker.

The false report, which when viewed on Facebook (FB), features a Feb. 2 China Xinhua News image of a recovered COVID-19 patient, could have reached around 94,000 netizens.

Its top traffic generators from social media are public FB groups SARA DUTERTE CARPIO FOR PRESIDENT MOVEMENT GLOBAL, President Duterte News and DUTERTE FOR PRESIDENT 2016.

City News was created on June 14, 2019.

Earlier this month, VERA Files Fact Check verified another report by City News that turned out to be false. This pertains to the claim that Chinese billionaire and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma donated U.S.$ 5 million to a Filipino researcher who “developed a vaccine” for 2019-nCoV. (See: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Story on Jack Ma giving US5M to ‘Pinoy student’ who invented ‘coronavirus vaccine’ NOT TRUE)

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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