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Social media posts claiming COVID-19 patients in hospital beds on the streets in Europe have gone viral on various social media sites. The posts claim that the hospitals in Italy and Spain, the largest COVID-19 hotspot in Europe, are full. As a consequence, patients are either left or treated on the streets.
Former Delhi MLA and the National Spokesperson of Akali Dal, Manjinder S Sirsa who has more than 135,000 followers tweeted the images claiming it to be from Italy and Spain. While posturing to his followers to abide by the government's order to stay home to prevent a similar situation in India.
Facebook page "Australian Rang", posted identical images with the caption "Situation in Italy." The page with more than 40,000 followers claims to be a Brisbane-based organisation that has been promoting Punjabi culture since 2017.
We found similar posts in Hindi and Telugu urging people to listen to the government and stay at home. We also had several tweets with similar claims, one of which was retweeted more than 32,000 times.
Italy set up hospital beds on the streets
The claim is false. Following reverse image search on Google and Source, we found that the photos are from Croatia after a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the north of the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. We found the images published by the two Croatian daily Newspapers (Slobodna Dalmacija & Jutarnji list) dated 22nd March 2020. According to the Croatian media houses, the images were taken from evacuating hospitals in the quake-affected areas of Zagreb. We also found various twitter handles connecting the same collection of photos to the earthquake.
We can now ascertain the various social media reports claiming to show scenes in Italy and Spain during the novel coronavirus pandemic are, in fact, false. In reality, theses posts show the aftermath of a major earthquake that struck the Croatian capital of Zagreb on March 20.2020. Misinformation and rumours surrounding infectious diseases can lead to unjustified panic and chaos, which would deter our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Help the fight by staying at home and maintaining social distance.
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