VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB post FALSELY claims coronavirus is not real, paints INACCURATE comparison of COVID-19 situation abroad

Facebook (FB) page Alamin Kay Kuya Dex published a false post on Aug. 25 that claims SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, does not exist.

Several peer-reviewed and published studies have shown SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19, as opposed to the FB page’s claim that there are no such findings in medical journals.

In its lengthy caption, Alamin Kay Kuya Dex also echoed other conspiracy theories in saying nobody should have recovered from the disease if it had no cure, and a person should be dead within 24 hours of infection if the virus were that deadly.

Infected patients have a good chance of recovery if their cases range from mild to moderate as long as there is “supportive care” or the treating of symptoms to alleviate a patient’s discomfort, according to the World Health Organization. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizen says COVID-19 ‘isn’t real,’ recites string of FALSE claims)

The post also claimed that the RT-PCR test, hailed as the “gold standard” for COVID-19 testing, does not detect the virus and “only looks for a genetic sequence.” This is misleading because what the RT-PCR detects is the genome sequence specifically belonging to SARS-CoV-2. (See The science behind COVID-19 testing)

To prove its claim that the Department of Health (DOH) is just “fooling Filipinos,” the page uploaded a collage showing a Reuters photo of Filipinos riding a jeepney in August, wearing protective equipment and practicing physical distancing. Below it were three photos showing crowds in the United States (U.S.), Tanzania, and Wuhan, China.

That these three localities were supposedly not taking similar preventive measures—ostensibly backing the claim that the virus isn’t real—are misleading and need context.

US photo

Sa USA, nasa Playoffs na ngayon ang NBA at ang mga player ay hindi nakasout (sic) ng mask, face shield at walang social distancing (In the US, the NBA is now in its Playoffs and players are not wearing masks, face shields, and there is no social distancing),” the post’s caption read.

The image used was a screenshot from a video on Aug. 7 featuring highlights of the Phoenix Suns’ recent games in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

This is misleading. NBA resumed its 2019-2020 season this July with a “rigorous” health program in place, formulated in consultation with “infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials” for the prevention and mitigation of the COVID-19 health risk according to a press release.

One of its biggest health measures was the employment of what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called on June 26 a “bubble” concept.

The bubble is a designated isolation zone for players, coaches and staff and is located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The bubble is where teams will be playing and staying.

“All will undergo coronavirus testing daily, at least initially,” the commissioner added.

Tanzania photo

Sa Tanzania, halos lahat hindi nakasout (sic) ng facemask, walang faceshield at walang social distancing. Yan ay dahil sa Presidente nila na matapang at may diskarte. Alam niyang kalokohan lamang ang COVID-19 kaya hindi siya pumatol sa virus na ito (In Tanzania, almost everyone does not wear a face mask, no face shield and there is no social distancing. This is because their President is fearless and resourceful. He knows that COVID-19 is just a ruse; that’s why he isn’t reacting to it),” the caption read.

The photo, originally posted on Aug. 3, showed a motorcade of local football team Simba SC Tanzania after winning a championship game. Football players were surrounded by a large crowd of people.

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard, Tanzania has only recorded a total of 509 COVID-19 cases and 21 deaths. But reports say this is because the country stopped reporting COVID-19 figures to the WHO on April 29.

Alamin Kay Kuya Dex linked this story from the New York Times about President John Magufuli’s declaration that his country is “coronavirus-free” but the same report contains much-needed context about the situation in the African country: there are doubts that Tanzania has controlled the outbreak. Other news organizations have also reported that Magufuli has been accused of covering up the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak in his country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even issued on Aug. 6 a level 3 COVID risk warning, the highest, recommending travelers to “avoid all nonessential international travel to Tanzania.”

Wuhan, China photo

Sa Wuhan, China, nagsasaya na mga tao doon dahil wala nang mass testing at hindi nila isinali ang mga asymptomatic sa mga confirmed cases. June 3, 2020 palang tapos na sila sa lokohan (In Wuhan, China, people are going out and having fun because there is no more mass testing and they did not include asymptomatic cases in confirmed cases. They were already done with the farce on June 3, 2020),” the caption read.

An Agence France-Presse photo of a massive pool party in Wuhan taken on Aug. 15 was used in the FB post.

The page’s claim bears false and misleading information. China previously did not include asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in its official tally of cases, but began doing so on April 1.

On June 3, Wuhan, where cases of the disease first emerged, completed a mass testing campaign that covered its “nearly 10 million residents.”

COVID-19 cases are still reported on a daily basis in the city. It has no new confirmed cases nor deaths as of Sept. 21.

Alamin Kay Kuya Dex’s untrue and misleading post has been shared over 2,600 times and continues to circulate nearly a month after its publication. The latest COVID-19 tally from the government shows the Philippines has about 56,000 active cases of COVID-19 as of Sept. 22.

The page was created on March 5, 2016.

(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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