An amateur video showing what looks like a group of patients or nurses dancing around a hospital room while wearing masks but not social distancing has been making the rounds on social media. There have been lots of theories about its origins, with some claiming that the video was filmed in Gabon, while others saying the scene took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It turns out, this dance party happened in Zambia and the Zambian Ministry of Health confirmed that to our team.

Some people were amused by the video, while others were angry. The footage shows a group of about a dozen people, both men and women, gathered in what looks like a hospital room. Most of them are wearing masks and several of them start dancing and singing. One of them even starts hitting a drum.

Quite a few social media users from both Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo claimed that the footage was from their country and denounced the behavior of the people in the video. Some claimed that the people were ill with Covid-19, while others said that they were healthcare workers.

One social media user in the DRC shared the video, only to have his post shared more than 800 times. He said : "Sick people dancing traditional dances, what a vibe at the hospital really the Democratic Republic of the Congo just keeps sinking”.

The person who shared this post says that the scene took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Check out the post here. It was also archived by the FRANCE 24 Observers team. If you want to check it out, click here.)

One social media user from Gabon posted the video along with the caption, ‘“Seen and read on the net” - Images of people ill with Covid-19 in the University Hospital in Libreville. Pretty surprising!"

This post claims that the video was filmed at the “University Hospital in Libreville". The post is available here and has been archived here by the FRANCE 24 Observers team.
A video showing a traditional bemba dance from Zambia

We ran this video through a reverse image search using a tool called InVid (check out how to use it by clicking here). The search pulled up the very first time the video appeared online, which was on May 13. The video was shared on Zambian news sites that explained it had been filmed in the Chinsali quarantine centre in northeast Zambia. Several different media outlets, including those that have links to the opposition as well as those with government ties also shared the video.

We showed this video to several Zambian Observers, who said that they heard words from the Chibemba language, which is spoken by the Bemba people. It’s spoken in Zambia as well as by several groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. The people dancing say the words "tubatwalile abene bakayonawile" several times, which means something along the lines of "Bring this to his landlord, so he can ruin it all himself.”

The song they are listening to is called "Nse-nse Tubatwalile" ("Hurry up we deliver theirs"). It comes from the Luapula region and is often sung during traditional marriages called "Matebeto" in Zambia. You can also see examples of this traditional Zambian dance on YouTube.

The Zambian Ministry of Health confirms that it was filmed in Zambia

The FRANCE 24 Observers team contacted the Zambian Ministry of Health to see if this video had, indeed, been filmed in Zambia.

We got an official response from the Ministry on May 28, which said::
We confirm that the video footage that is circulating on social media is from an occurrence that took place in Chinsali General Hospital in Muchinga Province of Zambia on Wednesday 13th May 2020.

Whilst medical ethics and respect for the privacy of the patients constrains us from divulging their identities and discussing the circumstances surrounding the video clip, we can however mention that male and female patients are kept separately in all our health facilities  including Chinsali General Hospital.

The Zambian Minister of Health sent this statement to the FRANCE 24 Observers team.

It’s impossible to know if these patients really had Covid-19 or something else. The Zambian Ministry didn’t want to give any more details about the men and women dancing together. A source in the ministry said that an investigation was underway to understand more about what happened.

In summary
This video shows patients dancing in a hospital in Zambia. It wasn’t filmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Gabon.

Article by Alexandre Capron (@alexcapron)