Fact Check
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Falsely attributed image used to spread fear of monkeypox in Singapore

July 6, 2022


A viral image that Singapore is currently facing a wave of monkeypox cases that are inundating its healthcare systems.


This is a false connection. The image was taken in Hong Kong and not in Singapore as claimed, and showed the effects of COVID-19 outbreaks, not monkeypox.


Just as the world is coming to grips with COVID-19, and interest around the two year long global event teeters off, a new virus is becoming widely known.

Monkeypox, first discovered in 1958, is now being used as a vehicle of misinformation. This zoonotic disease (transmitted to humans from animals), typically associated with Central and West Africa, has gone global.

In this multi part fact check, we investigate the various misinformation that is being spread about monkeypox and resolve its veracity.

Singapore overwhelmed by monkeypox?

Disinformation spread about rising monkeypox cases in Singapore. The account has recently gone private and is no longer accessible.

Globally, it is accepted that Singapore has been at the forefront of containing the spread of COVID-19 in the country throughout the pandemic. The island nation’s tight controls and high vaccination rate have allowed it to come out of the pandemic relatively unharmed.

So it comes as no surprise that it is a target for disinformation actors.

On May 18, 2022, around the time monkeypox became a global sensation, a Twitter post claimed that Singapore’s hospitals were not only overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, but had been inundated with monkeypox cases as well.

Shared alongside the claim was a picture as proof depicting the situation.

The uncredited image from a Twitter post shows patients lying in a makeshift treatment facility outside a hospital.

Faqcheck Lab used Google reverse image search to discover that the photo was not actually taken in Singapore.

Instead, its actual location is Hong Kong. The image was extracted from a 16 February 2022 news article by PBS News, with the headline: “Hong Kong faces its worst outbreak of the pandemic even as it sticks with ‘zero-COVID’ strategy’”.

Faqcheck Lab found out that the photo was taken by Reuters photographer Aleksander Solum.

Image credit to REUTERS/Aleksander Solum

Several Twitter accounts reacted to the post on the same day to dispute the claim that the image referred to Singapore.

There are no mass monkeypox outbreaks in Singapore, nor are hospitals struggling with COVID-19 patients.

On 6 June, 2022, Singapore’s Ministry of Health issued a press release to confirm one case of monkeypox involving a traveller who had transited via Changi Airport. There has also been one confirmed case of monkeypox that was reported by the Singaporean health ministry on 21 June, 2022. There was no community transmission to date.


Xiamen University Malaysia: Siew Tong En, Sean Elijah Tan, Liu Zihan

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: Ong Wei Chin, Seri Haidah Jaapar, Nurul Hidayah, David Win & Kuroshini

University of Nottingham Malaysia: Nathaniel Chan Jia Yoong, Nursarah Mohammad Firdaus Aloysius, Dayana Salim, Farah Aina Azaharuddin, Soh Annjo & Nur Ain Nabila

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