Debunked: People didn't really panic about a COVID-19 case at the Dakar Airport

·2-min read

Emergency workers rush to care for several women lying on the tarmac in Dakar’s Airport while the crowd flees in panic in a video posted on Facebook on March 7 that has garnered large numbers of views in Senegal. However, the scant caption on the 30-second video, which says nothing but “urgent-coronavirus”, left quite a few viewers skeptical about its authenticity. Our team investigated and found out that this footage has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic and was taken out of context.

The video shows people hurrying off a bus and rushing to get away while emergency workers tend to several women coughing and lying on the airport tarmac. The video gathered more than 80,000 views in 48 hours. We took this screengrab of the video on Facebook. After our article was published, the person who posted the video deleted it.

Why this video is fake

Even though there have been four confirmed cases of the coronavirus Covid-19 in Senegal, including two new cases announced on Wednesday, this video doesn’t have anything to do with the pandemic.

When we ran the video through a search on InVid (check out our guide on how to use this tool here), we discovered that it had been posted online long before March 7. The original video was posted on news sites Dakaractu and Thiès Info a few years back.

Screen capture of the search results with InVid tool.

It turns out that this video actually shows a training exercise carried out in November 2019 at Blaise Diagne Airport in Dakar where police, gendarmes and members of staff had to practise what they’d do in case of a hostage-taking scenario, according to site Thiès Info. The actors taking part in the simulation are all wearing red armbands.

More and more videos are popping up online that are said to show crowds panicking after hearing there is a nearby case of coronavirus. In early February, a video started circulating that was said to show people running down the street in Mauritania to “flee coronavirus”. An investigation by AFP Fact Check established that the video actually showed people running during a protest in July 2019.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we’ve been busy debunking fake videos and photos that have been circulating online. To check these stories out, click here.

Article by Hermann Boko