Amid the mass hysteria over the outbreak of novel coronavirus, news broke on Thursday, 13 February, that two people in Kolkata, both passengers who arrived from Bangkok at the city's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport, had tested positive for the virus.
Many media outlets carried the news, while also giving the names of the passengers, stating that these two men had been sent to Beleghata ID And BG Hospital.
News agency PTI was among the first to report on these two alleged cases of coronavirus in Kolkata. Subsequently, other media outlets either published their own reports or picked up the PTI copy.
Some others such as The Indian Express, Kolkata-based newspaper The Statesman and India TV carried their own articles based on this news. The Indian Express has since taken down the article, we were able to find it on MSN news.
The Quint also carried an update about the case in its dedicated coronavirus live blog on Thursday, 13 February, but issued a correction immediately after it became evident that PTI had misreported.
TRUE OR FALSE?
PTI and The Indian Express actually misreported the incident, stating that these people had tested positive for this virus, when they were actually suspected cases and had been referred to undergo tests.
It is worth noting that PTI and The Indian Express were among those who misreported, but corrected themselves later and updated their stories. However, PTI's original story is still available online, as can be seen in the first screenshot.
Moreover, not everyone updated their stories, as is evident in our screenshots. Some outlets which carried the original PTI did not refresh or update their stories, resulting in the circulation of misinformation.
WHAT WE FOUND
The Quint checked the Kolkata Aiport's Twitter handle and found that they had tweeted an update regarding the two alleged cases, and had termed the news false and baseless. The tweet also said that three passengers had been referred to a hospital.
#Coronavirus Update: Media reports mentioning about Coronavirus positive cases detected at NSCBI Airport is totally wrong & baseless. 3 passengers traveling through #KolkataAirport were referred to ID Hospital, Beliaghata by Airport Health Office as suspect cases.— Kolkata Airport (@aaikolairport) February 13, 2020
According to a statement by the airport, the passengers had been referred to the hospital by the Health Office.
The Health and Family Welfare Department also issued a statement about the reports of positive cases, saying that no one in West Bengal had tested positive till date and that the news carried by some portals, which quoted the director of the airport, was factually incorrect.
Additionally, one of the two men who had been named by media outlets reached out to The Quint to clarify that this was fake news, and that he had not tested positive for the virus.
"The news is entirely untrue and mentioning my name is purely unethical," the man, whose name we are withholding for the purpose of privacy, wrote in his email to us and added that his test results had come out negative.
Further, in a Facebook post, he reiterated the same and provided photos of his test results, which appeared to confirm his statement.
Clearly, the news is fake, and it was a case of media misreporting.
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