Footage of a person moving inside a body bag is circulating in social media posts that claim it shows an actor pretending to be a Covid-19 victim as part of a scheme to fool the public about the severity of the pandemic. The claim is false; the video is from a news report on protesters who staged a stunt against climate policy in Austria on February 4, 2022. The demonstrators told AFP the protest was not related to the pandemic.
“This is the real identity of the corpses that horrified the entire world with Covid-19 fear. Hey, you know you won’t get paid for your performance today,” reads a Korean-language Facebook post shared on February 7, 2022.
The 18-second video shows a reporter speaking in German, with rows of body bags in the background.
A person in one of the body bags is seen moving around, before a woman rushes over and appears to zip it back up.
The video was shared in similar Facebook posts here and here, as well as here on South Korean platform Naver Blog.
Some social media users appeared to believe the footage showed staged Covid-19 victims.
“So if you die of Covid, you’ll become a zombie and come back to life,” one person commented.
“Most people who died of Covid are fake,” another wrote.
However, the claim is false.
A reverse image search on Google found the original news report published here by Austrian media outlet Oe24 on February 4, 2022, about a demonstration against climate policy in front of the federal chancellery in the capital Vienna.
The German-language chyron reads: “Vienna: Demo against climate policy.”
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the original news report published by Oe24 (right).
Oe24’s report alongside the video reads: “Friday (February 4, 2022) will mark 400 days that Austria has no greenhouse gas reduction target. The Fridays For Future platform warned that this was deadly, that with every tonne of CO2, the climate crisis is escalating. In the afternoon, activists presented 49 ‘climate body bags’ in front of the Federal Chancellery in Vienna.”
In the full video, which lasts over two minutes, several protesters are seen lying on the ground in black body bags, while others are dressed in black, holding scythes and German-language banners that read, “Climate protection law saves lives” and “No to the current climate policy.”
In the report, Oe24 journalist Marvin Bergauer says in German: “No greenhouse gas and reduction targets in Austria for 400 days. That is the official title of this event here, this demonstration. It was organised by Fridays For Future… Here you can also see this protest action, which is somewhat macabre. Forty-nine people are lying here on the ground to represent the climate deaths.”
The Austrian branch of Fridays for Future, a global civic group for climate strike movement, announced the climate protest on its website here on February 4, 2022.
‘No connection’ to Covid-19
Verena Matlschweiger, a spokeswoman for Fridays For Future Austria and co-organiser of the event, said the protest “has no connection to Covid.”
“It is solely about the climate crisis. The dead bodies are meant as a symbol, and do not hold an intention to show real corpses,” she told AFP on February 8, 2022.
The group also shared similar photos from the protest in posts on Twitter and Facebook, which did not mention the pandemic.
“During action by Fridays For Future today, activists lay ‘dead’ in front of the Chancellery. They symbolise people who will die as a result of the failure of Austrian climate policy,” reads a German-language tweet posted on February 4.
Bei einer Aktion von Fridays For Future lagen heute Aktivist*innen „tot“ vor das Kanzleramt. Sie symbolisieren jene Menschen, die durch das Versagen der österreichischen Klimapolitik sterben werden. (2/x)https://t.co/AtIKHx7psa
— Fridays For Future Wien – #LobauBleibt! (@ViennaForFuture) February 4, 2022