A resident uses his mobile phone in Colombo on April 6, 2020. ( AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI)

Facebook users in Sri Lanka misrepresent image of Covid-19 victims in Myanmar

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An image of several bodies on a hospital floor has circulated in Facebook posts that claim it shows the aftermath of a protest staged by nurses in Sri Lanka in July 2021. But this claim is false: the photo is unrelated to the protest in Sri Lanka; it has in fact circulated in reports about Covid-19 fatalities in a town in Myanmar.

"Our nurses strike has been extremely successful -- I am Ananda," reads the Sinhala-language text overlay to this image shared on Facebook on July 17, 2021.


Screenshot of the misleading post captured on July 18, 2021

"Ananda" refers to Muruththettuwe Ananda Thero, president of Sri Lanka's Public Service United Nurses Union, whose photo was edited onto the image.

The misleading post circulated online after Sri Lanka's nurses union staged a nationwide protest in early July over unmet demands from the government.

An identical image was also shared alongside a similar claim on Facebook here, here and here.

The claim however is false: the image is unrelated to the nurses protest in Sri Lanka.

A reverse search on Google found the image was published here on July 15, 2021 by Khit Thit Media, a news organisation in Myanmar.

The image's Burmese-language caption translates in part as: "There were 22 people who died of Covid-19 today... Images of dead bodies at the mortuary in Myawaddy hospital today."

Myawaddy is a town in southeastern Myanmar.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the image in the misleading posts (L) and the image published by Khit Thit Media (R):




Further keyword searches found the image was shared here on Facebook on July 15, 2021 by U Hla Tun, chairman of the Myanmar Rescue Organisation.

U Hla Tun confirmed to AFP he took the image.

"The image is from Myawaddy. The picture was taken with my phone," he told AFP.