VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Report claiming China to kill ‘20k’ COVID-19 patients FAKE

Website news-af.feednews.com published on Feb. 7 a fake article claiming the Chinese government, upon approval of its Supreme People’s Court, will carry out a mass execution of 20,000 COVID-19 patients in the country.

COVID-19 is a disease contracted from exposure to the newly discovered novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As of Feb. 16, it has infected more than 68,000 people and killed 1,665 in mainland China alone according to a Johns Hopkins case tracker.

The fabricated report bore the headline, “China Seeks For Court’s Approval to kill over 20,000 Patients,” and featured as its banner image a Jan. 22 Reuters photo of a suspected COVID-19 patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong.

The article carried made-up information on the outbreak situation in China, specifically a false claim that China’s highest court was “expected to give an approval on Friday” on its government’s supposed proposal to kill over 20,000 coronavirus patients in the country to “control” the further propagation of the virus.

More, the concocted report claimed “at least 20 health workers contract the virus daily” in China, and that the World Health Organization (WHO) said it needs one billion U.S. dollars “to fight coronavirus outside China.”

News-af.feednews.com’s claims are fake and baseless.

There is no such case being tried at the Supreme People’s Court of China. The high court’s record of scheduled hearings on its official website does not show that it was set to decide on such a case on Feb. 7, and neither is there a record of it on the resolved cases tab and press releases.

The court’s latest announcement related to COVID-19 is a set of guidelines for people “intentionally spreading the novel coronavirus or harming medical workers.” Those guilty of the crime could face imprisonment of three years to a lifetime, or even death, depending on the gravity of the crime’s consequences.

Records from China’s official web portal and media agency also show no report on the government submitting a document to the high court proposing a mass execution of COVID-19 patients.

For such a massive, morbid “proposal”, the fake move reported by news-af.feednews.com has received no reactions from international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The two bodies’ latest coronavirus-related statements refer to the death of a “whistleblower” doctor in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, who first spoke about the then-unidentified pneumonia-causing disease. He was detained for “spreading rumours” and later died from the disease.

There is also no reliable source or evidence backing up the article’s claim that at least 20 medical workers in China get infected with the 2019-nCoV on a daily basis. Recent reports by wire agencies Agence France-Presse and Reuters cited a senior health official in China who said that a total of 1,716 health workers in the country have acquired the virus. Six of them have died.

News-af.feednews.com’s claim that WHO needed “$1 billion” in combating 2019-nCoV “outside China” is also wrong. In a Feb. 5 news release, WHO announced the launch of a U.S.$675 million preparedness and response plan, which aims “to fight further spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak in China and globally.”

The last two paragraphs of news-af.feednews.com’s fake article were also directly plagiarized from a Jan. 28 report of British tabloid The Daily Mail. The absence of an About Us and a Contact Us page of news-af.feednews.com further underscores the unreliability of the website.

News-af.feednews.com’s fabricated report got more than 4,000 online interactions and could have reached almost three million social media users. Its top traffic generators are Facebook (FB) page Friends of Jesus and public FB groups Jesus Christ Family and CoronaVirus Updates.

An earlier and exact version of the deceptive article was also published by City News (ab-tc.com) which has a notorious reputation for spreading online disinformation.

City News’s post has already been debunked by different international fact checking organizations.

Feednews.com, which hosts news-af.feednews.com, was created on Oc. 13, 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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