A video purportedly showing family members lying dead and left unattended due to the novel coronavirus has been widely circulating on social media platforms since earlier this month.
The claim is false.
Annie Lab found the same video posted by other accounts on Youtube and Twitter as early as Dec 31, 2019, — 23 days before the Chinese government locked down Wuhan and neighboring cities in an attempt to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
The earlier posts claim to show a rural family in Hebei Province who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after the local government forced residents to adopt “smokeless coal” for household use.
Coal is still commonly used for heating and cooking in most rural areas in Northern China.
The video clip’s watermark indicates that it was originally posted by a user on Sina Weibo, whose page can no longer be found.
However, a news article on China’s popular news portal Sina reported that the person behind the Weibo account was arrested for “spreading rumors” after posting the video on Sina Weibo on Dec. 31, claiming the family of four in Zhangjiakou, Hebei, died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by “smokeless coal.”
Local police quoted in the story said no such event took place in the specified location, but provided no further details on the case.
Since the video in question was filmed on or earlier than Dec. 31, 2019, at which time the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported only 27 pneumonia cases of an “unknown cause,” and because the original post did not mention anything about the novel coronavirus outbreak, Annie Lab concludes that the claim the family in the video died of coronavirus during the lockdown is false.