Disinfo: Coronavirus might have been brought to Wuhan from outside China

Summary

The coronavirus that caused the pandemic did not originate in Wuhan. Five of China’s largest scientific institutes have studied the COVID-19 genome samples taken in 12 countries on 4 continents. They found that there is no “ancestor” of the virus that can be found in China. It means that the coronavirus was brought to the market in Wuhan, where it is believed the epidemic began, by an already infected person. It is likely that by that time, the infection was already developing in other regions.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory and pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China, in the city of Wuhan on December 31. On that day, China alerted the WHO about several cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause. Some of those infected worked at the city's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which is believed to be the place where the new disease originated. Very quickly, the number of those infected rose to over 40. On January 13, the coronavirus was confirmed in Thailand, in Japan on January 16 and in North Korea and the United States on January 20. In Japan, the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in a resident of Kanagawa Prefecture who had travelled to Wuhan at the beginning of January. The first case in Italy was confirmed on January 30, when two Chinese tourists in Rome tested positive for the virus. A week later the third case was confirmed in an Italian man who was repatriated back to Italy from Wuhan.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/04/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: China
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Conspiracy theory
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Coronavirus is safe because it only kills old people

COVID-19 is a great virus. Children almost do not get sick, and the average age of the victims is 79.5 years.

Disproof

Regular disinformation about the coronavirus. WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene. People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus. Graham Roberts, an honorary consultant paediatrician at the University of Southampton, explains: "Children (with COVID-19) are predominantly affected in their upper airways (nose, mouths, and throats) so they get cold-like features rather than the virus managing to access their lower airways, ie lungs, and giving the pneumonia and life-threatening Sars picture that we see with adult patients." The proportion of infected children who went on to develop severe or critical COVID-19 illnesses with breathlessness, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and shock was much lower (6%) than among Chinese adults (19%) – especially older adults with chronic cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. However, there are still cases of children dying from COVID-19. For example, on April 4, a five-year-old child in the UK with underlying health conditions passed away.

Myth about Ukraine as a separate nation was created in the USSR

In the USSR, a myth was created about Ukraine as a country, in which another type of people lives – “Ukrainians”. They were separate, albeit “fraternal”, people. They supposedly consisted of boys and girls in costume, and, as such, were considered to be “folk”. This complimentary, and not substituting identity is the only thing that can help the future of Ukraine and its people. Not concept of “Ukrainian, not Russian”, but that of “Little Russian and Russian”. This will return to Ukraine the meaning of existence as a truly Little Russia, as an integral part of the Russian world.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin propaganda narrative questioning the Ukrainian statehood. Ukraine is a well-defined nation-state that has preserved language, literature and identity despite foreign rule for long periods. It is a sovereign state whose borders are guaranteed by international agreements but were violated by Russia, which started a war in Ukraine. The publication uses a derogatory term 'Little Russians' to identify Ukrainians, which derives from imperial Russian and Russian irredentist ideology that is a favoured pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at weakening the national identity of Ukrainians and undermining Ukraine's sovereignty. See also previous narratives claiming that there is no Ukraine, that Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians are the same nation, and that Ukrainians are Russians, not Ukrainians.

EU is suffering from the sanctions against Russia

Sanctions against Russia are speeding up the suffering of the European economy.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Western sanctions on Russia claiming that they have backfired. Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine.

According to research into the effect of sanctions, the cumulative export loss to Russia during 2014-2018 is estimated at EUR 30 billion (about -0.2% of EU’s GDP in 2018), incurred largely during 2014-2016, as EU exports to Russia recovered in 2017. While these sanctions do effect EU's economy, the EU-wide impacts of the export losses are estimated at less than 0.2% of total value-added and employment.