Claim: A WhatsApp message being circulated claims that South City Hospital, Imtiaz Supermarket and Chase Up have all been shut due to Covid-19 outbreaks. The message also claims that 16 positive Covid-19 cases can be traced to Al Jadeed store.

Fact: No recent Covid-19 outbreaks have been reported in any of the above mentioned places

On 28 October, a viral WhatsApp message was sent to Soch Fact Check. This message, which has been circulated widely, claims that South City Hospital has been sealed because 51 of the private medical facility’s staff members have been tested positive for Covid-19. The message also cautioned citizens in Karachi from going to grocery stores because of the claim that several Covid-19 cases have been reported from within staff members of multiple grocery stores including Chase Up, Imtiaz and Al-Jadeed Super Mart in Dhoraji.

Soch Fact Check found these claims to be false. The management of South City Hospital confirmed that the hospital had not been shut-down, contrary to the claim in the message. A staff member from the hospital told Soch that, “This is fake news, all facilities within the hospital are operational.” Moreover, the homepage of the hospital has the following pop-up message for visitors and patients:

Pop-up message on South City Hospital’s website

A representative from Imtiaz Super Market’s head office told Soch that no outbreak of Covid-19 has been reported from any of the stores in Karachi. He also confirmed that the claim within the WhatsApp message is false.

Similarly, representatives from Chase Up and Al-Jadeed confirmed that no Covid-19 cases have been reported from any of their stores across Karachi either.

Moreover, Soch Fact Check can confirm that the exact same message was circulated on WhatsApp a few months ago, as early as 1 July 2020. This confirms that the claims within it are false.

Caption: The exact same message, sent to Soch Fact Check on 1 July 2020.

However, it is still necessary to take precautions when visiting hospitals and grocery stores due to rising cases all over the country. In anticipation of a second wave of Covid-19 cases, the National Command and Opera­tion Centre announced that shopping malls, restaurants and wedding halls, and other commercial areas will close at 10pm from Thursday 29 October (today).

Summary: A widely circulated WhatsApp message claims that a number of Covid-19 cases have been reported from the staff of South City Hospital, and multiple grocery stores in Karachi, including Chase Up and Imtiaz Super Market. Soch Fact Check found these claims to be false, however precautionary measures are still advised.

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