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No, 250 shop staff in Alberton, South Africa, not Covid-19 positive and ‘told to keep working’

A graphic widely shared on Facebook in South Africa since 15 May 2020 claims that 250 staff at shops in Alberton, a town just south of Johannesburg, have tested positive for Covid-19.

“If you know of a family member that went to any of the malls at Alberton this week tell them that 250 employees around those malls tested positive on Monday and they told them to continue working,” it reads.

“Hotspots are Alberton City Game and Pick n Pay, Alberton mall Shoprite and Springbok pharmacy, Lemon Tree mall Woolworths, Makro and Checkers.”

Is the warning legit?

‘No confirmed cases’

Alberton falls in one of six districts of the City of Ekurhuleni municipality. On 26 May the district, which includes nine other settlements, had 123 confirmed cases of Covid-19. A few “hotspots” in the town could not have had 250 cases 10 days earlier.

On 15 May the Alberton City Shopping Centre posted the graphic on its Facebook page with “Fake News” stamped on it.

“There have been NO confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the retail employees at Alberton City Shopping Centre to date,” the post reads. “We continue to do our best to ensure a safe shopping environment, and we are taking all of the necessary precautions.”

The Alberton Record community newspaper investigated the graphic and found it to be false. Alberton ward councillor Tiaan Kotze told the newspaper that, as of 15 May, there were “only 93 positive cases in our Sub district of Ekurhuleni South 1. The image of the 250 positive cases in the malls of Alberton is fake news.” – Taryn Willows


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