VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB post claiming Italy has ‘no more doctors’ FALSE

As the COVID-19 death toll in Italy rose to 8,215 this week -- the highest in any country -- a Facebook (FB) user on March 23 falsely claimed there are no doctors left in the European nation.

The untrue post featured a pixelated photo showing bodies scattered on a street, overlaid with text that reads, “ITALY walang ng doctor (no more doctors).” On the image’s upper left corner is the term “covid19padimec.” The erroneous FB upload came with a caption asking the public to remain in their homes during the current emergency.

The claim is not true, and the photo used by the netizen is unrelated to the COVID-19 crisis.

The image used in the false post is actually an edited and cropped copy of a 2014 Reuters photo of an art installation in Germany, where people laid down on a pedestrian zone in remembrance of victims of a Nazi concentration camp.

On the matter of Italian health workers, the country's public health bureau Istituto Superiore di Sanità, in its March 25 report, stated that 6,205 health care workers have turned out positive for COVID-19. Several international media have also reported on the rising number of medical frontliners dying in Italy, hitting 41 as of March 26, based on the latest report.

But there have been no reports reflecting the netizen’s claim that the country has run out of doctors. There are over 240,000 practicing medical doctors in Italy, according to a 2019 European Union report on physician statistics.

The netizen’s untrue post has widely made the rounds on the web, receiving over 4,000 reactions, 1,300 comments and 36,000 shares on FB.

(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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About Vera Files

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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