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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

May 22, 2020

AFP’s fact-check service debunks misinformation spread online. Here are some of our recent fact-checks:

1. Kawasaki disease

Two photos were shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts which claimed they were evidence that Kawasaki disease is spreading among babies during the novel coronavirus pandemic. But the posts are misleading. One of the photos has circulated in reports about a skin blister caused by a different disease. Health authorities maintain that a Kawasaki-like condition observed in some children with COVID-19 is still under investigation and that children remain “minimally affected” by COVID-19.

2. Canada face masks

Multiple online articles falsely claimed that authorities in Canada have made it a criminal offence to go outside without wearing a face mask during the pandemic. In fact, as of May 2020, it is only mandatory to wear masks on board airplanes and in certain stores. There is no Canadian jurisdiction that mandates wearing face masks on the street.

3. Australian banknotes

Photos of Australian $10 banknotes were shared multiple times on Facebook and Twitter alongside a claim it features images representing coronavirus and the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. The claim is false. The Reserve Bank of Australia said the images on the notes in fact show a tree native to Australia and Australian writer Mary Gilmore.

4. 5G conspiracy in Nigeria

A Facebook post shared hundreds of times claimed that a curfew was imposed in Nigeria to allow Chinese companies to build 5G masts. The curfew, however, was actually enacted in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Authorities also say that no 5G licences have been issued to any firms in Nigeria — Chinese or otherwise.

5. Influenza statistics

A Facebook post shared thousands of times falsely claimed no Americans died from the flu in 2020, suggesting that the national count of COVID-19 fatalities has been exaggerated. In reality, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 7,500 Americans are estimated to have died this year from influenza during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

1. http://u.afp.com/kawasakidisease

2. http://u.afp.com/canadamasks

3. http://u.afp.com/10dollarnote

4. http://u.afp.com/nigeria5gmasts

5. http://u.afp.com/FluDeaths

afp

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.