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Astronaut costumes to protect children from Covid-19 in China?
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The video is both cute, and the legend that accompanies it anxiety-provoking: children in China would thus wear combinations of taikonauts, Chinese astronauts, in order to protect them from Covid-19. For some, it’s a sign that the pandemic is picking up again, and a glimpse of what awaits children around the world. But this video is out of context, and we explain how to find its origin.

This video, mainly shared in English, however, caused Twitter users around the world to react, in Italian, Spanish or French, all wondering how far the Covid-19 pandemic could go, or if this situation does not had no impact on children’s mental health.

How can I find the origin of this video?

Finding the origin of a video usually requires doing a reverse image search from a screenshot of the video. In particular, this allows you to find where this video has been posted before on the Internet. Generally, the best tool to do this search is the Google images search engine.

But here, it is not very effective: the video coming from China, the search engine has not indexed enough information to find the trace.

When looking for the origin of a photo or video from China, it is particularly useful to use a Chinese search engine like Baidu. Baidu also allows reverse image search.

Astronaut costumes to protect children from Covid-19 in China?
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The Baidu Images search engine. © Baidu

And in the case of this video, a search on Baidu allowed us to find articles like this documenting the event relating to this video: it was about a sporting event organized in a school of Shangrao, on the 2 December, where children were dressed as taikonauts to pay tribute to the Chinese aerospace industry.

In the images, or in another video available on Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, most of the other children or parents attending the event are seen not wearing masks.

This school is not the only one to have organized such events: we also found another school which had dressed children in the same way on December 27 in Changle, in the province of Fujian, in the southeast from China. The objective was always the same: to pay tribute to the taikonauts.

Why there is a bottom of truth behind this video

But then, where do these rumors of the use of such costumes to protect children from Covid-19 come from? During our research, we found two cases documented by the Chinese media: the first in April 2020, where a father had ordered a taikonaut costume, modified the air filter inside, and equipped his child.

The second in January 2021, where a child named “Lucas” had become a star on Douyin after his parents filmed him strolling in this costume in the streets of Nantong, in the province of Jiangsu (east of China).

Nevertheless, in both cases, the effectiveness of the costumes remains very theoretical, and depends on the quality of the air filter installed inside.

There is no indication to date that such costumes would be worn by children in Chinese schools, as Zhifan Liu, correspondent for the newspaper Liberation in Beijing, explained to us:

Pupils or students do not wear coveralls in schools because these places are often closed first as soon as a new outbreak appears. For example, Beijing has seen a handful of new cases in recent days and classes were immediately suspended and moved online. The authorities do not generally take risks.

It is worth remembering that with very rare exceptions, China has been living normally for almost two years, so classes are taking place as normal (face mask, social distancing and temperature taking but no wetsuit).

Astronaut costumes to protect children from Covid-19 in China?
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