Photo does not show nurses treating COVID-19 patients in Italy

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A photo of a couple locked in an intimate embrace with their face masks lowered has been shared in Facebook posts that claim they were nurses who were treating COVID-19 patients in an Italian hospital. This is false, the photo was taken by an Associated Press photographer at Barcelona’s airport.

This post, published on March 25, 2020, tells the story of “Sofia and Antonio who worked as nurses in Italy,” and says they left their own children behind to help treat patients, only to become victims themselves.

“The picture below was taken while they were working in hospital, few days before Antonio got infected, unaware that this might be their last kiss,” it says. “They both died holding each others hand,” it adds. 

A screenshot of the post taken on April 9, 2020

Similar social media posts here, here and here make the same false claim. 

The original photo, however, was shot by an Associated Press (AP) photographer on March 12 and appears on the AP Images website here as part of the news agency’s pictures of the week gallery.

The accompanying caption makes clear the location is the Barcelona airport, not a hospital in Italy. AFP found the original photo by using a reverse image search.

A screenshot of AP Images website displaying the out-of-context photo

The photo’s full caption reads: “A man and woman kiss in the Barcelona, Spain airport on Thursday, March 12, 2020. President Donald Trump, who had downplayed the coronavirus for weeks, suddenly struck a different tone, announcing strict rules on restricting travel from much of Europe to begin this weekend. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti).”

The same photo has also circulated alongside text claiming that it shows two Italian doctors who died of COVID-19.

As of April 9, AFP Fact Check has debunked more than 270 examples of false or misleading information about the novel coronavirus. A complete list of our fact checks on the topic in English can be found here.