Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a set of images are being circulated to claim that the system of central air conditioning has been shut and it has caused mould (a fungus) to grow on leather goods such as shoes, belts in malls.
While the images are real, they are not from an Indian mall, but from Malaysia's Metrojaya store in Suria Sabah mall. The store had been closed since 18 March due to coronavirus restrictions and these images were taken for internal use when the store was preparing to re-open.
The claim further urges people to not visit malls even months after the lockdown is lifted as the weather is hot and humid and it favours fungi to grow.
“All central ac system shut. It’s caused the mould on on leather goods .... but you at least see these.Imagine when malls open the fungus in the ducts will fly free in closed atmosphere of malls..... entering our respiratory system..... leading to major infections. Ernest request friends ..... don’t visit malls for months even after lockdown is lifted. Our weather is hot and humid and it does favour a lot of fungi flourish. So be careful. (sic),” the claim reads.
Several social media users shared the images on Facebook with the same claim.
The Quint received a query on the claims made in the viral images via its WhatsApp helpline.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
A Google reverse search on one of the images led us to an article published by CGTN on Tuesday,12 May, with the headline: ‘Shopping mall finds leather goods covered in mould after lockdown.’
The article mentioned that the images are from Malaysia's Metrojaya Centre that closed on 18 March owing to the restrictions imposed due to coronavirus.
“Leather goods at the mall were left covered in mold after a two-month lockdown. The region's humid weather without air-conditioning led to the damage,” the article mentioned.
The article carried a video in which the viral images can be seen which were taken after the shop prepared to reopen this week.
Further, we searched on Google using keywords “Metrojaya Centre mold bags” and found an article published by Inquirer, a Philippines- based media outlet that carried the official statement of departmental store Metrojaya issued on Monday.
The statement mentioned that the images are from its store in Suria Sabah mall. “Please note that the photos is circulation were taken solely for internal use as we were preparing to reopen our store, which has been closed since 18 March in compliance with the Movement Control Order.”
It further mentioned that all the damaged goods have been removed and replaced with the new stock.
In another Facebook post, Metrojaya mentioned that the store has been sanitised and has been opened since Wednesday.
Metrojaya Suria Sabah is all cleaned up, sanitised and looking great! It will be re-opening its doors starting from...
Evidently, images from Malaysia showing mould on leather products in a shopping mall were passed off as the ones from an Indian mall.
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