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Debunked: No, this footage does not show NPHET members ignoring social distancing

An image was widely shared on social media after file footage appeared on RTÉ news bulletins.

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FOOTAGE OF A meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), which shows people sitting close together, purporting to be from this week is actually from February.

As part of reports on its news bulletins yesterday, RTÉ showed file footage of a NPHET meeting.

In the footage, people are sitting close together and not a minimum of two metres apart – as recommended by social distancing guidelines.

Screenshot 2020-04-29 at 12.23.15 The file footage in question. Source: RTÉ

Still images from the footage have been widely shared on Facebook, incorrectly claiming that the footage is recent and shows NPHET members not adhering to their own guidelines.

The video was clearly labelled as ‘file pictures’ on RTÉ but this wording is either ignored or cropped out when being shared as misinformation.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the footage in question is from a NPHET meeting that took place on Tuesday, 25 February, “before social distancing guidelines were introduced, and was clearly marked as such by RTÉ”.

“The NPHET is following all public health advice in holding its meetings,” they added.



There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not.

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Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere.

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate.

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie   

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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