VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Photo of child in PPE taken in Vietnam, NOT in PH

Local Facebook (FB) users are sharing a photo of a child clad in full-body personal protective equipment climbing onto an ambulance. Its caption in Filipino states that the 5-year-old kid was headed alone to a hospital after testing “positive.” This misleads.

The photo was taken in Vietnam and not the Philippines, a detail missed by most netizens who interacted with the posts. VERA Files Fact Check has found at least 144 copies of the post circulating on FB since Aug. 16, with its earliest copy, posted by the local page 11:11, getting more than 114,000 shares.

A reverse image search traced the photo to a June 24 TikTok video uploaded by an account with the username @antho9898. It bore a caption in Vietnamese which translates to: “Vietnam, I’m fighting… There are actions that can only be watched… but can't be helped.A review of the user’s profile also shows that the majority of his posts were in Vietnamese.

The Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control used antho9898’s TikTok video in an FB post the same day, where it provided context to the situation of the child in the clip.

According to the post, the five-year-old girl as was boarding a medical vehicle of the Binh Chanh District Hospital. She tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on June 23 and was on her way to the Trung Vuong Hospital for treatment when the video was taken by a nurse named Nguyen Thanh Truc.

Prior to her testing positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the child's father and grandmother were also confirmed to carry the virus and were receiving treatment. Her mother was in isolation. The Center said the girl was in a stable condition, and that she was with her grandmother at the hospital.

The child’s story made the headlines in Vietnam and was carried by news outlets such as Dân Trí, Tuổi Trẻ, and Thanh Niên.

A look at a clearer screen grab from antho9898’s video also revealed that the visible text on the vehicle reads “Bệnh viện H.Bình Chánh,” or “Binh Chanh District Hospital” when translated into English. Bình Chánh is situated in the southwest portion of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's largest city formerly known as Saigon.

The FB posts carrying the child's photo circulated a week after Food and Drug Adminitration Director General Eric Domingo reported to President Rodrigo Duterte that the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is now infecting and causing severe COVID-19 in children, unlike the earlier variants which affected the elderly population.

Social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle shows all 144 posts carrying the uncontextualized photo already have received over 446,000 interactions from FB users.

The page 11:11 was created in March 2020. Its post could have reached around six million netizens, with traffic coming largely from the page itself, as well as public groups Bohol Spotted and IG FILTERS.

(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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