False reports are going viral (no pun intended) that the coronavirus was stolen by Chinese scientists from the National Microbiology Lab at 1015 Arlington Street in Winnipeg to be weaponized.
These reports are false and baseless.
What Social Media Says Happened:
Rumours started to surface when it was uncovered that two Chinese scientists who were escorted out of the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg amid an RCMP investigation.
It was then discovered that live Ebola and Henipah viruses were sent to Beijing on an Air Canada flight on March 31 and could have also included the coronavirus.
The viral story claims that the two scientists escorted out of the lab were Chinese spies and that they smuggled the coronavirus to China’s Level 4 lab in Wuhan to weaponize it.
The Truth According to the Public Health Agency of Canada
The two scientists in question are Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, a medical doctor and virologist from Tianjin, China, and her husband Keding Cheng who worked at the Winnipeg lab as a biologist.
Dr. Xiangguo Qiu helped develop ZMapp, a treatment for the Ebola virus which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 – 2016.
Keding Cheng has published research papers on HIV infections, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), E. coli infections and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. He did not specialize in coronavirus research as claimed by Social Media.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has denied any connection between the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg and the coronavirus. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada says that there is absolutely no factual basis for those claims being made on social media.
The two scientists were in fact escorted out, however it was due to a “policy breach” and “administrative matter” and there was never any danger for public safety.
Scientists at the NML did send live Ebola and Henipah viruses to Beijing on an Air Canada flight, however coronavirus was not part of this shipment and all federal policies were followed. There is also no confirmation Qiu or Cheng were the scientists behind the shipment.
REMEMBER: Always exercise good judgment and DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING you read on Social Media until you’ve collected the facts.