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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher February 25, 2020

No evidence that United Kingdom is preparing for lockdown over coronavirus

If Your Time is short

  • Only about a dozen coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United Kingdom.

  • British officials are monitoring the situation but have not taken steps toward any lockdown.

A split-screen video with a chyron broadcasting "Breaking News" exacerbates fears about the 2019 novel coronavirus, circulating mistruths about the state of the virus’ spread through the United Kingdom.

The 22-minute video post being shared on Facebook starts by simultaneously rolling three videos under this headline: 

"Breaking: UK Prepares For Full Lockdown After Hundreds Of New Cases — Wuhan Super Virus Updates."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

It’s not clear where the video clips were shot, but they show a variety of disturbing scenes, including what appear to be four people in hazmat suits loading something into a van; an older Asian man being handcuffed and led away by what appear to be two police officers wearing medical face masks; and a younger Asian man outdoors wearing only underwear being led away by two men wearing uniforms.

As the video clips play, a male narrator says officials in the U.K. — which comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are desperately searching for hundreds of coronavirus cases. He goes on to share more conspiracy theories about the virus’ origins.

But the data doesn't indicate any such panic in the U.K.

As of Feb. 24, 2020:

Featured Fact-check

  • The World Health Organization reported only nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.K. (British officials say the number has risen to 13.) Eight of the people have been treated and discharged, The Telegraph, a British news organization reported.

  • The risk of catching the coronavirus in the U.K. is low, according to the country’s National Health Service.

  • British officials say they are monitoring airports with direct flights from China, and are recommending movement restrictions to residents only if they have been to Wuhan recently or have been to China or nearby countries and have respiratory symptoms.

The post was made by STFN Reloaded. We have also rated as False a claim by that group that the coronavirus "causes sudden death syndrome." And the Australian Associated Press said an STFN Reloaded claim that the coronavirus came from a Chinese lab is false.

Our ruling

A Facebook post says: "Breaking: UK Prepares For Full Lockdown After Hundreds Of New Cases — Wuhan Super Virus Updates."

There are fewer than 10 coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom and no signs that travel or other aspects of life in Britain have been shut down by the virus.

We rate the statement False.

Our Sources

Facebook, post, Feb. 11, 2020

The Telegraph, "Coronavirus: a quick guide to the outbreak sweeping the world," Feb. 21, 2020

Public Health England, "Coronavirus -- what you need to know," Feb. 21, 2020

World Health Organization, "Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 32," Feb. 21, 2020

United Kingdom National Health Service, "Coronavirus (COVID-19)," Feb. 18, 2020

United Kingdom Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, "Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice," Feb. 21, 2020

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No evidence that United Kingdom is preparing for lockdown over coronavirus

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