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Fact Check: Is Russia using 800 lions, hyenas to enforce COVID-19 stay-at-home orders? The answer is NO


“President Putin Releases 800 Lions And Hyenas In Russian Streets To Keep Everyone Home,” reads the headline of an article shared on Facebook in Nigeria.

It says this is one of the Russian president’s “early and aggressive measures” to “stop the mass spread of coronavirus”.

But the article’s photo of a lion on a city street looked familiar to us at Africa Check. We investigated.

Lion in Kenyan city? Lion in South African movie shoot

The story is on Musbizus Blog, a Nigeria-based site that seems to publish mostly false articles. The claim also appears in another Facebook post. The blog post is undated, but the Facebook post was published on 21 March.

The photo has nothing to do with Russian president Vladimir Putin – and we’ve investigated it before.

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In December 2019, we fact-checked a claim that a lion was roaming the streets of Mombasa, Kenya. This claim used the same photo of a lion. But the photo was taken on a film set in 2016, in Johannesburg, South Africa, just down the road from the Africa Check’s office.

While it’s been covered up by a banner in the Musbizus Blog article, the street name “Jorissen” can be seen in the bottom left corner of the photo posted on Facebook, painted on the curb. Locals will recognise it as Jorissen Street in Johannesburg’s inner-city neighbourhood of Braamfontein.

We’re all working from home because of Covid-19, so we confirmed where the photo was taken using Google Maps. The screenshots below make it clear that this lion was not walking the streets of Russia.

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A news article from 2016 shows more photos of the lion, Columbus, on set. Columbus was borrowed from Lion and Safari Park, in Gauteng province, whose animals have been featured in TV adverts and blockbuster films.

Are we sure Putin hasn’t released any dangerous wildlife?

There are other clues that the claim on Facebook and Musbizu’s Blog is false.

First, it’s inconsistent. Musbizus Blog claims that 800 “lions and hyenas” have been released in the body text of the article, although the banner across the photo mentions “more than 500 lions”. The Facebook post says “800 lions and tigers” have been “dropped” on Russian streets.

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Second, no major news outlets have reported on the story. Even major Russian news sites like theMoscow Times have not mentioned it in their reporting on the new coronavirus and Covid-19.

Most telling of all, CNN published an article on Russia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Part of the blog post has been copied word for word from the CNN article, but not the claim about wild animals.

It’s a false story, published and shared to drive visitors to Musbizus Blog. – Keegan Leech


Africa Check

Nigeria Update

Kwara CoS death: Contact tracing begins



Kwara State Government has directed that all persons who have had contact with the late chief of staff in the last 14 days to proceed to the COVID-19 Infectious Disease Centre/Hospital at Sobi, Ilorin.

This is to ensure the immediate collection of their samples for test.

Aminu Adisa Logun died on Tuesday evening from COVID-19 complications.

Commissioner for Health Dr Raji Razak said:

“Such persons will thereafter proceed to self-isolate until the result of their test is communicated to them.”

The remains of the deceased were interred yesterday at his Ilorin GRA residence.

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He said:

“After due consultations, the family and the government of Kwara State hereby announce that a dignifying COVID-19 compliant janazah would be held in honour of the late Chief of Staff on Wednesday (today) July 8th at his GRA home in Ilorin, the state capital.

“His janazah shall be supervised by the burial team of the COVID-19 Technical committee in accordance with extant protocols for Muslims.

“The janazah prayer shall be led by the Chief Imam of Ilorin. Only selected family members, a few clerics appointed by His Eminence the Emir of Ilorin, and a few government officials are to attend.

“We empathise with the Governor of Kwara state, the family of our Chief of Staff, and all Kwarans at this mourning period. We further advise that friends, families and associates should please mourn and pray for him from their respective abodes.

“We emphasise that members of the public should kindly respect the privacy of the family and all safety rules at this time and always.”

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Covid-19: Enugu records 37 new cases, 11 deaths



As the number of the novel coronavirus cases in Enugu state increased to 418, the state has announced that 11 persons have died from the virus as of Wednesday morning.

The State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi, who disclosed the frightening development in a statement, also confirmed new 37 Covid-19 cases in the state.

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Dr Obi said that the new laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases have brought the total laboratory-confirmed cases in the state to 418.

He said the;

“number of Covid-19 cases on treatment 186, while the number of Covid-19 cases discharged – 221 and the number of Laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 related deaths 11.”

The Commissioner, however, advised the general public to be responsible, warning that “Covid-19 is real.”

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Covid-19: Edo death toll hits 50



The death toll from COVID-19 in Edo State has climbed to 50, with 1,435 people testing positive for the disease.

The state, however, said 840 persons have been discharged from its isolation facilities.

Commissioner for Health Dr Patrick Okundia, who stated these to reporters in Benin City, noted that over 50 per cent of the deaths recorded in the state are within the age category of 60 years and above.

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He urged residents to be cautious in protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Expressing worry over the alarming rate of community spread of the virus, Okundia said there was a need for residents to take responsibility and support the government’s efforts at containing the pandemic across communities.

According to him,

“Physical distancing, compulsory use of face masks, hand hygiene and other epidemiological safety rules must be strictly followed to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and protect the people, especially the elderly, who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

The commissioner explained that the state recorded 52 new confirmed cases with 32 tested at the Irrua Specialist Hospital (ISTH) laboratory, while the remaining 20 cases were confirmed at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) laboratory.

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Okundia, however, reiterated the need for citizens to present or report themselves through the state COVID-19 toll-free response lines, following any recent travel from high incidence states or contact with confirmed cases.


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