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Did a doctor in China really collapse during surgery because he had contracted coronavirus?

People circulated this video on social media, claiming it shows a doctor, ill with coronavirus, collapsing in a hospital in Wuhan. It turns out that’s not the real story.
People circulated this video on social media, claiming it shows a doctor, ill with coronavirus, collapsing in a hospital in Wuhan. It turns out that’s not the real story.
3 min


A video showing a doctor in China collapsing while performing an operation has been circulating on social media, with people claiming that he had contracted the new coronavirus in Wuhan. Our team took a closer look at this video and found out it tells a different story.

The video, which was shared on Twitter and gained more than 235,000 views on YouTube, looks like security footage of a team of surgeons operating on a patient. Suddenly, one of the surgeons collapses and the other doctors rush to his aid.

The people sharing the video online claim it was filmed in a hospital in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic, and that the doctor fainted because he had contracted the virus.

"What is happening in Wuhan is just terrible", tweeted this Spanish speaker.

The title of the video posted on YouTube reads, “A doctor infected with the virus in a hospital in Wuhan, China.”

However, a small detail in the video caught our eye. In the top right corner, “Thursday 17” is written in Chinese. That makes it likely that the video was filmed on January 17, 2020, which was indeed a Thursday. However, the city of Wuhan wasn’t quarantined until January 23, six days later. On January 17, there were still very few identified cases of the virus. The doctor could have fallen ill at that time, of course, but the fact that the dates don’t quite line up did make us suspicious.

Video filmed in a hospital in Yunnan Province

We ran the video through a reverse image search using Invid and immediately found the video in Japanese on the Youtube channel of New Tang Dynasty Television. NTDTVJP is a television channel created by followers of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that is considered a cult in China. The channel posted the video on January 25.

The description of the video reads, in Japanese, “a doctor in Yunnan collapsed from overwork”.

The video was also posted on the Chinese video platform Sina by DV现场, a TV program produced by the public broadcaster in Guangdong, a province in southeastern China.

"Don’t worry! Thankfully, there were other doctors on hand,” reads the caption on this video.

The text also says that the footage was filmed in a hospital in Yunnan province and that the doctor collapsed because he was overworked and suffering from hypoglycemia.

If you type the keywords “doctor”, “Yunnan” and “faint” in Chinese into Google, then you’ll pull up an article from the Chinese newspaper Beijing News that was published on January 17. The article says that the incident occurred in the hospital in Zhenxiong, an administrative district in Yunnan, and confirms that the doctor was suffering from hypoglycemia and overwork.

This provides more evidence that the video wasn’t filmed in Wuhan. While it is hard to prove for certain what afflicted the doctor, we do know that on January 17, only 44 cases of coronavirus had been reported, 41 in Wuhan and 3 abroad. No cases had been reported in Yunnan. Article by Marie Genries

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