Fake News: Coronavirus in China: Millions Quarantined, 2.8 Million NOT Infected; 112,000 NOT Dead

Hoax Alert

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fake News: Coronavirus in China: Millions Quarantined, 2.8 Million NOT Infected; 112,000 NOT Dead

Have 23 million people been quarantined, 2.8 million infected, and 112,000 people killed from the coronavirus in China? No, that's not true: Even though Chinese authorities have restricted the travel for 35 million people due to the outbreak, the numbers of infections and casualties have been greatly exaggerated. The story cites "covert intelligence sources," not named officials who could verify these claims on the record.

The claims originated from an article published by Hal Turner Radio Show on January 24, 2020, titled "Coronavirus in China: 23 Million QUARANTINED, 2.8 Million Infected; 112,000 DEAD" (archived here). It opened:

MULTIPLE UPDATES SINCE FIRST PUBLISHED . . . SEE BOTTOM -- The outbreak of an alleged new coronavirus in China is completely out of control, and is killing THOUSANDS every day.

As of 6:00 PM eastern US time on 23 January, Covert Intelligence sources who are former colleagues of mine from my 15 years with the FBI, the final five years handling National Security, Terrorism and Foreign Counter-Intelligence on the Joint Terrorism Task Force and who are presently inside China, confirm over 2.8 MILLION infected people with one-hundred-twelve-thousand (112,000) DEAD so far. Chief cause of death: Multiple Organ Failure.

This deviates wildly from the PUBLICLY reported number of 830 Infected and 25 deaths because . . . ready for this . . . . . A message from a frontline doc in Wuhan has confirmed the reason for the stopped growing number of infected is because the hospitals have run out virus test kits ...

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Coronavirus in China: 23 Million QUARANTINED, 2.8 Million Infected; 112,000 DEAD

The outbreak of an alleged new coronavirus in China is completely out of control, and is killing THOUSANDS every day. As of 6:00 PM eastern US...

The Hal Turner Radio Show claimed that the coronavirus "is killing THOUSANDS every day." The story cited "covert intelligence sources who are former colleagues" of Turner from his "15 years with the FBI, the final five years handling National Security, Terrorism and Foreign Counter-Intelligence."

There is a lot to unpack here, but Turner was never an employee of the FBI. His claim suggested otherwise and failed to note his actual role. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Turner was a paid informant, "providing information on white supremacist groups for the same government he frequently railed against."

The SPLC said Turner served as an informant for the FBI between 2003 and 2007. Wired magazine reported the FBI had approached him in 2002, and "the stint ended sometime in 2007." The magazine said that the online hacktivist group, Anonymous, had posted private emails purportedly between Turner and his FBI handler. Either way, Turner's apparent involvement with the FBI as an informant is far shorter than the 15 years he claims.

Further, as former FBI Supervisory Special Agent Steve Moore told Lead Stories:

Paid and unpaid FBI informants were not allowed under any circumstances to represent themselves as employees or representatives of the FBI.

While Turner may have offered some valuable information in his role as an informant, it is not true that any "covert intelligence sources" inside the FBI would be considered his former colleagues.

As to the numbers in his article, The New York Times, at last report, said the virus had infected more than 900 people around the world. There is no report suggesting that millions of people have been affected.

According to the newspaper, and also The Wall Street Journal, at least 26 deaths have been attributed to the outbreak so far, not 112,000. While the real numbers being reported are much lower than what Turner claims, that is not to say that health officials around the world are not concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. Still, the World Health Organization has not yet designated the new virus a "global health emergency."

On December 21, 2010, Turner was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison. He was charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges after they ruled in 2009 to uphold handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. In online posts, Turner said, "These Judges deserve to be killed." He also posted their photos, phone numbers, and a map of their office building.

Even though Turner's story about the number of people who have died from coronavirus is entirely made up, other articles and videos have linked to his post.

We wrote about The Hal Turner Radio Show before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

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