Video from Ecuador showing coronavirus victims in body bags shared as New York

Data as per John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, as of April 10, reports that the United States has recorded the most number of confirmed coronavirus cases – over 466,000. More than 16,000 people have lost their lives in the country due to the pandemic.

A 50-second video that shows scores of black-coloured body bags lying on the floor has gone viral on social media. Facebook and Twitter users have claimed that this video is from the US. The video has been shared with the text “Situation in a New York hospitalto all those who still hasnt understood the #lockdown importance…”

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application.

Fact-check

Alt News analysed the video by watching it frame by fame. At the 27-second mark, we noticed that one of the body bags has a note which read ‘zambrano loor gilbert’.

Using this as a clue, we performed a keyword search on Google and found a fact-check report by Spain-based media outlet Maldita published on April 9. This report includes a condolence letter, written in Spanish, issued by Ecuador-based real estate developer ACBIR after the death of Gilbert Zambrano Loor in Guayaquil. As per the letter, Loor died on March 29 but the cause of death isn’t mentioned. According to the report, ACBIR has pulled down this letter from their website but an archive version of the page is available.

According to AFP, the obituary was also uploaded on the Facebook page of ACBIR and later taken down. AFP contacted ACBIR via Facebook, which answered that “all we can say is that it was one of our associates, a real estate agent. We have taken the obituary offline at his family’s request.”

Maldita’s report pointed that a misleading post had been created using 12 Minutos, a Mexico-based meme generator which creates breaking news post, with the claim that Gilbert Zambrano Loor died in Bejing due to COVID-19 on April 8. The webpage has a disclaimer in Spanish which reads, “It’s a joke 🙂 They’ve made a joke of you! (translated from Es una broma 🙂 ¡Te han hecho una broma!)” Maldita performed a reverse image search and found that the video now viral was posted by Twitter account Ecuador en Video on April 1 claiming that it was shot in Guayaquil amid the coronavirus crisis. 

The outlet also found a tweet by Ecuadorian investigative journalist Carlos Vera from March 30. Vera post a picture which shows body bags strikingly similar to those in the viral video. He pointed out the increase in the death toll in Guayaquil. Next day he tweeted the viral video.

Maldita analysed the control access sign seen in Vera’s picture and compared it with logos in General Hospital del Norte IESS Los Ceibos in Guayaquil and found that both the signs have a similar design.

Several media reports point out Guayaquil is facing a shortage of coffins amidst an increase in death toll due to coronavirus. A report by the LA Times states, “Over the last few days, several were wrapped in plastic and left on the streets. Others have lain unclaimed in hospitals and clinics that have been overwhelmed by infections. The city morgue is full” on April 2. Similar reports have been carried by New York Post and Buzzfeed.

Therefore, the social media claim associated with the viral video is false. According to Spain-based media outlet Maldita, the viral video shows the scenes from General Hospital del Norte IESS Los Ceibos in Guayaquil.

Alt News was alerted about the misinformation by Sunil Prabhakar of Mathrubhumi, Kochi, who also assisted in the fact-check. If readers come across any false information on social media or otherwise, they can drop a message on our WhatsApp number +91 76000 11160. 

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