Misleading claim circulates online about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s visit to Hindu temple

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter alongside a claim it shows New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visiting a Hindu temple after declaring the country had reached its 100th consecutive day of no local coronavirus transmissions.

The claim is misleading; the video shows Ardern visiting the temple on August 6, 2020, three days before the country hit its 100-day milestone; on August 11, New Zealand recorded four new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections after 102 consecutive days of no community infections.

The two-minute and 54-second video was published on Facebook here on August 8, 2020.

A screenshot, taken on August 12, 2020, of the misleading post.

The caption reads: “New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Hindu Temple after declaring no Covid patients in her country.”

The video was also shared alongside the same claim hereherehere and here on Facebook, and herehere and here on Twitter.

The claim, however, is misleading.

Keyword and reverse image searches found that the footage shows Ardern visiting the Hindu temple in the city of Auckland on August 6, 2020.

Three days later, on August 9, New Zealand announced that it had been 100 days since it had recorded a single COVID-19 case that “was acquired locally from an unknown source,” the Ministry of Health declared here.

The same footage of Ardern’s August 6 visit was also published on YouTube here on August 7 by Desh Gujarat, a regional Indian news outlet. The post is titled: “New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Radha Krishna Hindu Temple in Auckland.”

Below is a screenshot comparison of keyframes in the misleading post (L) and the YouTube video (R):

A screenshot comparison of the misleading video and the YouTube video.

Ardern visited the temple to speak at an event organised by Indian Newslink and Radio Tarana, two Indian community media outlets in New Zealand.

Indian Newslink published the livestream of Ardern’s speech here and a photo album of the event here and here. Radio Tarana published photos from the event here.

The August 6 event was also attended by Muktesh Pardeshi, India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand. Pardeshi published photos of Ardern’s visit to the temple here on Twitter on August 8.

“Some precious moments with the honourable Prime Minister of New Zealand, Ardern, at ⁦Indian Newslink event on 6 Aug 2020. She paid a short visit to Radha Krishna Mandir and enjoyed a simple Indian vegetarian meal- Puri, Chhole and Daal,” the tweet read.

A screenshot, taken on August 12, 2020, of Pardeshi’s tweet.

New Zealand’s dream run of 102 days without locally transmitted coronavirus ended on August 11, prompting a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country’s largest city, Auckland, AFP reported here.

Video: Jacinda Ardern, An amazing leader, New Zealand

The misleading post was also debunked by BOOM, an Indian fact-checking organisation, here on August 11, 2020,

New Zealand claims ‘elimination’ of coronavirus with new cases in single digits

AFP / Balkantimes.press

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