26 September 2023
COVID-19Fact checkMisleading

Misleading: This ‘eerie’ video does not show people following China’s strict COVID rules

The video consists of two pieces of footage. One shows students wearing white raincoats, and the other shows construction workers building a makeshift hospital in Shanghai.

On Oct. 20, a Twitter user posted an eerie video that looks like “scenes from a horror movie” with a claim it shows people following China’s strict COVID-19 regulations.

The video consists of two clips. The first features a big crowd of people all wearing white coats resembling the gear worn by epidemic prevention workers in China.

The second shows rows of beds placed in a huge, hangar-like building and people lying in them.

This clip was also shared by some other Twitter users (here and here), implying that these people are COVID-19 patients (either in Shanghai or Lanzhou) who are poorly treated.

As of this writing, these tweets altogether have more than 4,700 likes and 2,000 retweets. Meanwhile, the video gained 571,000 views.

However, these claims are misleading.

First clip

Through keyword search on Douyin, Annie Lab found that people in the first clip are, in fact, students wearing white raincoats during military training.

The official account of Henan Radio and Television Station on the video-sharing platform said the footage was taken on Sept. 23 in Chongqing, and it shows students undergoing training in the rain.

In this version of the same video, we can also see a person in military fatigue among the students. A few comments suggested that these students are from Chongqing Vocational College of Media.

We then looked at the school’s official website, which said the 14-day military training began on Sept. 17.

We also found another video documenting the same student training on Douyin, showing the same stairs and outdoor environment seen in the clip in question.

The video from Henan Radio and Television Station shows a person in military fatigue walking down the stairs. Another Douyin video shows the same training at the same place.

Second clip

Annie Lab also learned that the second clip shows Shanghai New International Expo Centre (上海新国际博览中心) before it was turned into a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients.

Because a Twitter user commented on the video in question and suggested that the place is an expo center in Shanghai, we searched for photos of expo centers in the city.

We then found a video included in an article from the official WeChat account of Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) that shows the place where the beds were placed.

This video shows the process of how the makeshift hospital at SNIEC was built.

We can see the identical exhibition hall signage E5 and E6

According to the article posted by SCG, the construction began on March 25. The video we found was posted on March 28, three days before the isolation site became ready.

According to Fact paper (澎湃明查), a Chinese fact-checking organization that contacted SCG in April about the same video, the company explained that people lying in beds are construction workers who were building the makeshift isolation hospital.

Annie Lab also reached out to SCG but has yet to get a response as of this writing.

The video documented how the makeshift hospital at SNIEC was made.