Back to Africa Check

Things that are actually true (but you thought they weren’t)

This article is more than 4 years old

Yes, Nigeria’s federal government barred Emirates airline from operating in the country

An article posted on Facebook by Oak TV, a videography platform in Nigeria, claims that the country’s federal government has barred Emirates, a large airline, from operating there.

This is according to a tweet by Nigeria’s aviation minister, Sirika Hadi, the article says.

Facebook flagged the article as possibly false. But it’s correct.

Yes, Audi Centre Northcliff has closed down

A graphic shared on Facebook in South Africa says a luxury car dealership in a suburb of Johannesburg has closed down, “thanks to Covid-19”.

The graphic appears to be a personal message written by someone called Wayne Engelbrecht and includes a photo of a building with a large Audi logo. Is the closure accurate? Yes.

Yes, coronavirus found on frozen chicken wings from Brazil – but highly unlikely to spread Covid-19

“Chicken pieces exported from Brazil test positive for coronavirus,” reads the headline of an article on the Zimbabwe-based website ZimEye.

It was posted on Facebook, where the social network’s fact-checking system flagged it as possibly false. Did chicken pieces exported from Brazil to China test positive for the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19? If so, should we be worried?

Yes, South Africa’s student aid scheme waives document certification during Covid-19 crisis

People applying for South Africa’s National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) won’t have to certify the documents they submit during the Covid-19 pandemic, claims a post published on Facebook on 6 August 2020.

The post shows a screenshot of what appears to be a tweet by NSFAS. Did NSFAS remove the requirement for applicants to submit certified documents during the Covid-19 crisis? Yes.

Yes, Bantu Holomisa called for entire South African cabinet to resign

A number of Facebook posts claim politician Bantu Holomisa has called for the resignation of the entire cabinet of South Africa. Holomisa is co-founder and president of the United Democratic Movement, or UDM, a smaller political party.

Many of the posts were of the same identical message, repeatedly posted by the same person to several different Facebook groups. The message has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. But, suspicious as it may seem, is this claim true? Yes.

Yes, June Almeida helped discover the first human coronavirus

"June Almeida, the woman who discovered first human coronavirus in 1964," claims a graphic posted on Facebook in South Africa. It shows a black and white photo of a woman in a lab coat looking into a microscope.

The graphic was flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system. Did June Almeida discover the first coronavirus? Yes, Almeida was part of the team that discovered the first human coronavirus, which was reported in the journal BMJ in 1965.

Yes, South African rapper AKA tweeted – sarcastically – that WHO paid him R55 million to say he had Covid-19

“I was paid R55 million by WHO,” reads a Facebook post from 13 July 2020. “AKA confesses after people questioned his coronavirus results.”

The post refers to rapper Kiernan Forbes, known by his stage name AKA, who tested positive for the new coronavirus and announced on Twitter he had been paid R55 million, about US$3.5 million, to publicise his test results. Did AKA admit to being paid by the WHOs? He was being sarcastic.

Yes, exam held on South Korean football field to maintain Covid-19 social distancing

“Korea had their exams for students on the pitch in order to maintained social distancing law,” claims a graphic posted on Facebook on 18 July 2020.

It shows four photos of people sitting at desks evenly spaced on a sports stadium field. They are all wearing masks. Facebook’s fact-checking system flagged the graphic as possibly false. But it is true.

Yes, photo of temporary hospital in Cape Town convention centre

In a sign of the times that has become hauntingly familiar across the world, a photo of rows of hospital beds inside what looks like a large warehouse has been shared on Facebook in South Africa.

“Stay Home! Kubi in Cape Town… Gauteng is next!” its caption reads. “CTICC Temporary Hospital… Today!” The photo was posted on 29 June 2020. CTICC is the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Is this a photo of the temporary CTICC hospital? Yes.

Yes, one case of bubonic plague reported in China – but ‘not high risk’

“Case of bubonic plague suspected in China,” reads the headline of a CNN news report in a photo of a TV shared on Facebook. It was posted with the comment: “Can we get a break please.”

As of 9 July 2020, the world had more than 12 million cases of Covid-19, a disease first identified in China. Is there now a danger of bubonic plague? Yes - the World Health Organization is “carefully monitoring” the case in Inner Mongolia, and that it is “not high risk”.

Yes, new lockdown in Madagascar’s capital after Covid-19 ‘surge’

In April 2020 Madagascar’s president Andry Rajoelina launched Covid-Organics, a herbal remedy he claimed could cure Covid-19. There is no evidence that it does.

Now, according to news reports posted on Facebook, the African island country has had to impose a new lockdown due to a “surge in virus cases”. But many of the reports have been flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system. Has Madagascar reintroduced a lockdown after a surge in Covid-19 cases? Yes it has.

Yes, private Covid-19 tests now allowed in Lagos, Nigeria – at a price

People living in Lagos, a Nigerian state that includes its major city, can buy a Covid-19 test at a private laboratory for N50,400 – about US$130. That’s according to several news reports posted on Facebook.

Facebook’s fact-checking system has flagged the reports as possibly false. Can people unable to access Lagos state’s free service now pay N50,400 for a private test? Yes.

Yes, crowds ignored social distancing, flocked to south England beaches

Crowds of people ignored Covid-19 social distancing rules by visiting beaches in Bournemouth, a coastal town in southern England, according to an article on the South African site Eyewitness News.

It shows a photo of people relaxing and swimming on a beach next to a pier in Bournemouth, credited to news agency AFP and dated 25 June.

Facebook has flagged the article as possibly false, but it’s correct.

Yes, Africa’s first Covid-19 vaccine trial has started in South Africa

“First African Covid-19 vaccine trial kicks off on SA soil,” reads the headline of a 23 June 2020 article on HeraldLive.

South African news organisations eNCA and Sowetan Live have also reported the news.

Users on Facebook flagged the HeraldLive article and others like it as possibly false. But they are true.

Yes, study finds dexamethasone improves critical Covid-19 patients’ survival rates

Researchers say dexamethasone, a steroid drug, improves seriously ill Covid-19 patients’ chances of survival, claim a slew of news articles shared on Facebook since 16 June 2020.

The BBC described it as a “breakthrough treatment” for coronavirus, and TimesLive said it was a “miracle drug”. The reports have been flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system. But they are correct.

Yes, mosques open in Nigeria’s Kwara state

Muslim Friday prayers, known as juma’at and juma’ah, would resume in Nigeria’s north-central state of Kwara on 19 June 2020, according to a Facebook post.

“Breaking: Juma’at prayers to begin in Kwara Friday,” it reads. On 26 March the state government ordered all mosques and churches closed as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. But have mosques in the state been allowed to reopen? Yes.

Yes, free Covid-19 testing at South African pharmacy chain Dis-Chem, if referred through Momentum app Hello Doctor

“Momentum and Dis-Chem has announced that they will be offering private lab COVID testing to non-medical aid and unemployed patients,” says a WhatsApp message Africa Check received on 8 June 2020.
The message says South African pharmacy and clinic chain Dis-Chem will do free Covid-19 tests for patients without medical aid who are referred through Hello Doctor. This is true.

Yes, Lagos state spent N800 million on Covid-19 tests

The Lagos state government has spent N800 million, over US$2 million, on 16,000 Covid-19 tests. That’s the claim a Facebook user made, flagged as possibly false by the platform’s fact-checking system.

But it's true. 

Yes, monkeys in India stole Covid-19 blood samples from lab assistant

“Coronavirus: Monkeys ‘escape with Covid-19 samples’ after attacking lab assistant,” reads what seems to be a screenshot of a tweet by British broadcaster Sky News, posted on Facebook.

A comment on the tweet adds: “2020 can’t be real.” But it's true.

Yes, France’s face veil ban remains, despite face mask order to control Covid-19

“France made face masks mandatory in public – but its ban on face veils, burqas and niqabs is still in force,” reads an Instagram post doing the rounds on the social network in South Africa.

“Officials told @washingtonpost women who wear them as face coverings can be punished with fines.”

Three Instagram users have reported the post as potentially false. We investigated.

Yes, Ghana’s president said worker infected 533 others with Covid-19 at factory

“A worker infected 533 others with coronavirus at a factory in Ghana, president says,” claims a 25 May 2020 article on the site Report RSA.

“All 533 of them contracted the virus from one worker at the factory in the port city of Tema, the president said in his public address to the nation Sunday.”

The article has been flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system. But it’s correct.

‘Do not rent to African’ sign from Malaysia, not China

“As I stop supporting China Malls,” reads text on a screenshot of a Facebook post, reposted on 15 May 2020.

It shows a photo of a sign on a wall, in different languages. The English text reads: “DO NOT RENT TO AFRICAN/NEGRO” and “0% AFRICAN/NEGRO TENANT”. A red circle around the words “AFRICAN NEGRO” has a diagonal line through it in the common symbol for “not allowed”. The sign is not from China but from Malaysia, and it is sadly true.

Yes, South Sudan first vice president Machar tested positive for Covid-19

Riek Machar Teny, first vice president of South Sudan, has tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus disease, claims an article on the blog Nile Spear TV.

It says Angelina Teny, the country’s defence minister and Machar’s wife, has also tested positive, along with “a number of his office staff and bodyguards”.

The article was posted on Facebook on 19 May 2020, and flagged as possibly false by the social network’s fact-checking system. But it’s correct.

Yes, governor of Nigeria’s Rivers state ordered demolition of hotels for violating Covid-19 lockdown

Governor Nyesom Wike of Nigeria’s River state has ordered two hotels to be demolished for continuing to operate during the coronavirus lockdown.

That’s according to several Facebook posts users flagged as possibly false.

But these extreme measures are real.

Yes, South Africa’s president warned ‘worst’ of coronavirus ‘still coming’

RAMAPHOSA: THE WORST IS STILL COMING!” reads the headline of a 5 May 2020 article in the Daily Sun.

The article was posted on Facebook, where it was flagged as possibly false. But it is accurate.

Yes, sale of cigarettes, alcohol still banned under South Africa’s level four coronavirus lockdown

“Lockdown: Cigarettes, liquor still won’t be for sale on Level 4,” reads the headline of a 29 April 2020 article on South African news site Fin24.

The article was posted on Facebook, where it’s been viewed more than 300,000 times –and flagged as possibly false by the social network’s fact-checking system. But to the dismay of some smokers and drinkers, it’s correct.

Melinda Gates said she feared coronavirus in Africa would lead to dead being put out in street, as in Ecuador

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and wife of US billionaire Bill Gates, has said the coronavirus pandemic “will make Africa have dead bodies lying on the streets”.

That’s the claim in a 12 April 2020 post on Facebook in Kenya. Read what exactly she said.

No, World Bank hasn’t praised Tanzania’s Covid-19 response or warned other African countries against ‘western’ policies

“World Bank Applauds Tanzania on Anti Corona Policy Response, warns African Countries Copying Western Anti-Covid 19 Policies,” reads the headline of an article shared on Facebook.

But this is not accurate.

South African police record 2,300 gender-based violence complaints in first week of lockdown – not 87,000

High rates of gender-based violence are a huge concern for South Africa. When president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown to help slow the spread of Covid-19, many were worried that victims of this violence would be stuck indoors with their abusers.

The concerns seemed warranted when police minister Bheki Cele said that 87,000 cases of gender-based violence had been reported by phone in the first week of lockdown. But this number was inaccurate.

Company paying UK volunteers to be infected with coronaviruses – but not new Covid-19 virus

“Scientists in London will pay volunteers 400k to be infected with Coronavirus in experiments to develop a vaccine for the deadly virus,” claims a post on a Kenyan Facebook page.

Yes, UK firm hVIVO is looking to study coronaviruses - but not the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19, but other, more common coronaviruses. Read the full story here.


Yes, two French doctors said Covid-19 vaccine trial should be done in Africa

Did two French doctors say a coronavirus vaccine should be tested in Africa? That’s the claim in status updates and articles posted on Facebook in several African countries.

Yes, they did make the controversial remarks, triggering outrage. One has since apologised. Read how it all unfolded.


Why Kenya is banking on cashless transactions to help stop coronavirus

Can the new coronavirus be spread on banknotes? The question came on Africa Check’s Kenya WhatsApp fact-checking line.

“So, there’s a new claim that currency notes actually are possible conduits of the virus. How true is this?” It is possible.

Yes, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic 

Has the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak a pandemic - an infectious disease that is spreading around the world? This was reported by KTN News, a national Kenyan TV on 11 March 2020. But the post was flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

In a media briefing on 11 March, WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency had “made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic”. Get the details here.

Novel coronavirus declared a global health emergency? Yes

Several news media in Africa on 21 January 2020 reported that the World Health Organization had declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus a global health emergency. But some readers weren't too convinced, and flagged these reports to us.

It turns out the United Nations did confirm this in a tweet: “NEWS: #Coronavirus declared a public health emergency of international concern by WHO.” Get our full fact-check here.

The WHO has since declared Covid -19 a pandemic - which is the worldwide spread of a disease. Read all about pandemics here.

Yes, student was admitted to hospital in Kenya with 'coronavirus -like symptoms'

Was a student arriving in Kenya from China admitted to hospital after "exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms”? National TV stations reported this in January 2020, but some readers still had their doubts. But it did happen.

On 28 January Kenya’s ministry of health issued a statement on its Facebook and Twitter pages confirming that a patient showing coronavirus symptoms had been admitted to the hospital and they were conducting tests.

But Kenya's first Covid-19 case was only confirmed on 13 March.

Yes, dog tested positive for new coronavirus – but no evidence pets can spread Covid-19

Did a pet dog in Hong Kong test positive for Covid-19?  Yes, a dog in Hong Kong did test positive for the new coronavirus, but there’s no evidence that pets can spread it to people. That’s according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, and the World Health Organization.

Officials said it was likely a case of human-to-animal transmission. “Members of the public are advised to differentiate that ‘being infected’ does not equal being infectious and capable of spreading the Covid-19 virus,” the Hong Kong SPCA was quoted as saying. Get the details of this case here.


Take me back to the LIVE GUIDE


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.