health-related fact checks

FALSE: Eating fish prohibited due to medical wastes found at sea

FALSE: Eating fish prohibited due to medical wastes found at sea
The photos in the claim capture an incident that occurred in 2019. Officials had said then that fish were still safe for consumption.
At a glance
  • Claim: Eating fish is prohibited because tubes from a hospital with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were found at sea.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: The photos in the claim capture an incident that occurred in 2019. Health officials had said then that fish in the affected area were still safe to eat.
  • Why we fact-checked this: This claim was posted in the Facebook group “Fact-checking in the Philippines” for verification. The post containing the claim has gained 8,800 reactions, 3,500 comments, and 82,000 shares, as of writing. 
Complete details

A Facebook post warns users against eating fish because tubes from a hospital with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were found at sea.

Paalala daw sa lahat na bawal muna kumain ng isda ngayon mula sa dagat na pinagtapunan ng tube na galing hospital na may HIV,” the post read.

(Reminder to all that eating fish from the sea, where tubes from a hospital with HIV were found, is prohibited for now.)

This claim is false.

Using reverse image search, Rappler found that the post attached photos of an incident reported in January 2019, in which hospital wastes were seen floating on the waters of some barangays in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Most of these photos were originally posted by Facebook user Conell Croft on January 5, 2019.

Reports said some of the wastes were labeled with the names of either of two hospitals, Chong Hua Hospital or Ignacio Cortes General Hospital.

Chong Hua Hospital released a statement on January 6, 2019, saying they outsourced the proper disposal of their biohazard waste to Davao City Environmental Care Inc. (DCECI).

According to a SunStar report on January 11, 2019, the hospital and the DCECI were fined after the Environmental Management Bureau Central Visayas Office concluded that the DCECI threw the medical wastes into the Mactan Channel water.

The same report quoted then-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Central Visayas Office OIC-Regional Director Nilo Katada, saying that fish in the Lapu-Lapu City markets “was safe to eat” and that the medical wastes in the Mactan Channel water did not result in a fish kill. He also said, “Fish also will not eat medical supplies. Hence, fish is still safe for consumption and will not endanger human health.”

In January 2019, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III already belied claims that said one could get infected with HIV by eating fish from contaminated waters. The virus that causes HIV-AIDS can only survive in the human body.

Swimming, however, was prohibited in the Mactan Channel then, since the wastes could cause health problems.

According to reports, a team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas scoured the Mactan Island seas for the waste then, and the local disaster risk reduction and management office also cleaned up the trash along the Barangay Pusok shore.

The post containing the claim had gained 8,800 reactions, 3,500 comments, and 82,000 shares as of writing. – Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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