This photo was taken in 2019, not during the Covid-19 pandemic

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Soon after a rapidly expanding cluster of Covid-19 infections was reported in a Hong Kong gym in March 2021, a group photo of people without facemasks in a gym has circulated on Facebook alongside claims that the picture was taken during the pandemic at Ursus Fitness, the gym linked to a string of Covid-19 cases. The claim is false: the original photo was in fact posted on Facebook by Ursus Fitness in November 2019, before Hong Kong declared its first Covid-19 infection.

The image was published on various Facebook pages in Hong Kong, including here on March 12, 2021.

It shows a group of people in gym gear posing for a photo.

Screenshot captured on March 12, 2021, of the misleading Facebook post

“These guys were training at the affected gym for some event,hence now the virus has spread to private banks and schools! NOBODY wore masks at the gym (sic)”, the caption reads.

The photo was also shared in this post, alongside a caption referring to the people in the picture as “these idiots”.

The photo surfaced on social media after 17 people linked to Ursus Fitness gym in Hong Kong’s Sai Ying Pun district were confirmed with Covid-19 in two days, the local newspaper South China Morning Post reported on March 12, 2021.

As of March 14, 2021, 109 infected people were linked to the outbreak involving Ursus Fitness, according to the latest government report. The city’s tally of infections stood at 11,282, with 203 related deaths.

However, the claim is false and the photo has been shared in a misleading context: it was in fact posted on Facebook by Ursus Fitness in November 2019, not during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A reverse image search on Google found the original photo published by the Facebook account of Ursus Fitness’ Sai Ying Pun branch on November 14, 2019, and later reposted here on January 21, 2021.

The first Covid-19 case in Hong Kong was confirmed in January 2020.

The photo was also debunked by Hong Kong fact-checking organization Kauyim Media here.