In a Facebook post published by Milenko Nedelkovski on 15.03.2020, a photo of a tank car with the markings “COVID19” was published. The author of the photo, marked the part of the alleged tag with a red circle. With this photo the author implies conspiracy theories for an alleged spreading of COVID19. This post does not specify who is the author or source of the photo.
A link to the archived post here.
On March 15, 2020, Milenko Nedelkovski publishes a photo of a tank car with COVID19 marking. Posting this photo on his Facebook profile, which has over 60,000 followers in time when a worldwide pandemic has been declared, is tendentious and manipulative. First of all, this is a fake photo that was modified using a photoshop or other photo editing software.
The F2N2.mk team investigated the case, and checks revealed that the same photo had previously been shared on the social networks in Georgia, USA.Given that Georgia is one of the US states that has registered cases of coronavirus COVID-19, it is not surprising that this photo was shared there. But what is astonishing is how this photo is transmitted to Northern Macedonia at the speed of light.
The photo from the post shows a freight wagon with markings corresponding to the US Railway. In the United States, freight wagons are marked in accordance with the provisions of the Association of American Railroad (AAR), which provides for markings to contain two to four letters followed by a number of up to six digits, intended to indicate ownership of the wagon and what is being transported in them, as shown in the following example:General American Marks Company | 13,800 gallons molten sulfur | GATX60128| Birmingham, ALABAMA | October 15th, 2015
The method of putting identification marks is explained in detail here. It is clear that “COVID19” is not a mark corresponding to any legitimate identification mark, nor to any other standard form of marking or identification that might be found on a railway freight wagon. At the same time, on the spot where the mark “COVID-19” is put, no marking is provided. Also, the item/substance being transported is written in words, not with abbreviations. For example, molten sulfur.If you compare the photo from Milenko’s Facebook post and the photo posted on social networks in the US, you will notice that the photo that Milenko posted has been cropped in order to hide the wagon mark, based on which a detailed verification can be provided. Also, by simply zooming in on the photo you will notice that the serial tags under the alleged tag “COVID19” are completely blurred.Of course, if this really was a case of transportation of medical materials and supplies, for the sake of transport safety, they would be stored and transported in special containers, or hermetically sealed barrels adequate for such transport.Finally, the wagon marked “COVID19” makes no sense, as COVID19 is not a term that identifies a virus or any other object or fluid that can be transported. There is no such marking in rail transport, and COVID19 is an abbreviation for the name of the disease caused by coronavirus. Most often, viruses and diseases have different names. For example, HIV is a virus which causes a disease known as AIDS. Hence, the disease can’t be transmitted to us by wagons.
Taking into consideration the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO), on 11.02.2020, renamed the virus to “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus, in this case this wagon should have been marked SARS-CoV-2.
This is an example of how the citizens are being presented conspiracy theories and that they know no boundaries. For the two-day period the analyzed post reached 163 shares.
The fact-checking portal Snopes.com, on 14.03.2020, published a disclosure of this conspiracy theory.
This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.