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Viral Twitter photo of empty Geneva hospital corridor is 'misinformation'

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By Matthew Holroyd
The entrance of the emergency centrE of the University Hospital of Geneva in Switzerland.
The entrance of the emergency centrE of the University Hospital of Geneva in Switzerland.   -   Copyright  FILE - AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini - 2007
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A viral photo of empty hospital corridors in Geneva is "misinformation", Swiss authorities have said.

The misleading claims were published on Twitter by a well-known blogger from the city, who claimed that hospital departments were "closed" during the pandemic.

The tweet, accompanied by a photo of an empty hospital corridor, received more than 2,400 likes and more than 1,000 retweets.

But University Hospital of Geneva (HUG) has stated that the post is false and that all units at the hospital are working as normal.

"The 4CL unit shown in the photo in question is indeed open," a spokesperson for the hospital told Euronews.

"This unit has daytime opening hours and is known to be very well organised, which explains why the corridors are well ordered."

The 4CL unit operates from Monday to Friday and receives emergency and same-day surgery patients the hospital added.

It is not clear whether the viral photo was taken when the hospital is not used over weekends.

Twitter
The tweet was first posted on Sunday morning.Twitter

"The HUG units, Covid and non-Covid, all function normally," the spokesperson added.

"On Thursday, we had 52 Covid patients in the hospital and 156 post-Covid patients. This is significantly less than what we have experienced in recent weeks."

"We have informed Twitter that the combination of this real photo and the accompanying comment was misinformation."

Twitter said the tweet did not violate their policies on COVID-19 misinformation because it did not contain a clear call to action that could cause real-world harm.

But the social network said they would continue to address misleading claims that directly contradict the guidance of health officials.

On 1 March, Switzerland began relaxing restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, by opening non-essential shops, museums, and libraries.

The country's government said it would review making further relaxations each month as long as the infection rate remains low.

"It is currently unclear how the epidemic will develop," the Federal Health Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

"The number of cases has been rising again for a few days, similar to what happened in various neighboring countries."

Switzerland's government is due to meet next Friday to discuss any further measures.