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Fact-check: Did Coronavirus spread in Italy due to a Pakistani or due to ‘hug a Chinese’ campaign?

After China, Italy has seen the highest number of deaths from the deadly virus.

With the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus in Italy, social media has been abuzz with news that the patient zero in Italy has been identified as a Pakistani immigrant who refused to self-isolate.

Multiple media outlets had reported that an unnamed Pakistani migrant in Italy continued to deliver Chinese food despite being tested positive for coronavirus.

News report suggesting Pakistani migrant refusing to self-isolate even after testing positive for coronavirus.

In medical terminology, patient zero is someone who is the first documented patient when there is an outbreak. The news item suggested that the Pakistani migrant then compounded the risk by continuing the delivery of Chinese food. The wnd news links to a summit.news report which further links the story to one ‘Free West Media’ report. The News Feed Media report linked in summit.news report, however, talks about YouTuber PewDiePie.

Read: PewDiePie makes racist remarks against Indians after losing the YouTube subscriber battle against T-Series

Now, as it turns out, it is fake news. According to Associate Press, Italy is yet to identify its patient zero. World Health Organisation spokesperson Stephanie Brickman confirmed to AP that Italian authorities are yet to identify patient zero of the virus.

‘Hug a Chinese’

Another piece of news that has been making rounds is that the Mayor of Florence, Italy, initiated a ‘Hug a Chinese’ campaign to “eradicate prejudice” against the Chinese and encouraged random pedestrians to essentially ‘hug’ a Chinese.

‘Hug a Chinese’ movement

At first, this news seemed absolutely fake as when the world is advocating social distancing to ensure the spread of highly contagious virus is lessened, anyone encouraging hugging anyone in middle of an outbreak is ridiculous. However, the above news is not fake.

Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, Italy, on February 1 initiated a ‘Hug a Chinese’ campaign on Twitter.

He did this to ‘fight the psychological terrorism’ against the Chinese. This is not satire.

He was even hailed for the fight against ‘racism’.

Read: Former Chief Election Commission SY Quraishi wishes PM Modi gets infected with coronavirus

While there is no conclusive evidence that the ‘Hug a Chinese’ campaign might have spread coronavirus in Italy, as not all Chinese people are carriers of virus and hence they should not be discriminated against, it does not take away the fact that the campaign was perhaps not well thought of. It put political correctness over common sense and precaution.

Coronavirus in Italy

After China, Italy has seen the highest number of deaths from the deadly virus. Over a 1,000 people have died in Italy while the global figure is at over 4,600. In past 24 hours only almost 200 people have died in Italy due to coronavirus. Italy has tightened its quarantine and the US has banned flights to Europe.

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