FactCheck Social Media

No, Greg Hunt didn’t say no one had died from COVID-19 in Australia

2021-06-22 17:21:34

The Statement

A social media post claims Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt admitted no one in the country had died from a locally transmitted case of COVID-19.

The Facebook post includes a screenshot with text that reads: “Greg Hunt just said ‘No lives lost in Australia from Covid caught in Australia’.”

“Guess those people who died, including those in Aged Care pretended to die or they were too old to be considered Australian!”

Other posts feature an edited video showing Mr Hunt apparently making a similar statement during a press conference. One example, posted to Instagram, includes footage of Mr Hunt saying, “Whilst the world has agonisingly lost over two million souls to COVID, there have been no people who have caught COVID in Australia and passed away.”

The video then cuts to a black screen featuring the words, “Wait … What?!?!?”

Several comments on the post describe COVID-19 as a “scam” or the pandemic as “faked”, while one comment on another similar Instagram post responded: “Is this a slip of the tongue? Or him actually admitting no one is (sic) Oz has died purely of Covid without underlying conditions contributing?”

The Facebook post
 A post claims Health Minister Greg Hunt said no one had died from COVID-19 caught in Australia. 

The Analysis

Health Minister Greg Hunt did not say that no one in Australia has died from a local case of COVID-19 – social media clips of the press conference have been selectively edited to add the implication.

In fact, unedited video and a transcript of Mr Hunt’s statements show he was correctly referring to the fact that no one has died from a locally acquired case of COVID-19 in 2021, wording omitted from the posts. At no point did he say this was true since the start of the pandemic.

Australia has recorded 910 deaths as a result of COVID-19, according to Department of Health figures. The vast majority of the deaths occurred in Victoria during its second wave of the coronavirus.

The videos of and quote from Mr Hunt come from a press conference held on June 17. In his introduction, Mr Hunt told the media: “One of the things that we have done throughout the course of the pandemic, from the earliest days when (former chief medical officer) Brendan (Murphy) provided his advice, is follow that medical advice.

“It has been the difference in so many ways as to why this year, for example, whilst the world has agonisingly lost over 2 million souls to COVID, there have been no people who have caught COVID in Australia and passed away.” (video mark 48sec)

Later in the press conference, while answering a question from a journalist, Mr Hunt makes a similar statement: “As I say, over two million lives lost officially, yet none in Australia to anybody who’s caught COVID in 2021.” (video mark 33min 47sec)

In a press conference the following day, Mr Hunt repeated the line: “And, again, to step back, in a world of two million lives lost this year to COVID, but no lives lost for COVID caught in Australia, by following that medical advice, that’s kept us safe.”

Only one COVID-19-related death has been recorded in Australia in 2021, that of a man who died in April after returning from the Philippines and testing positive for the virus while in hotel quarantine.

Prior to that, the most recent death was that of a 70-year-old man, who died in December from respiratory complications nine months after he contracted the disease in Australia.

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked other posts attempting to downplay the number of COVID-19 deaths in Australia.

Health Minister Greg Hunt
 Greg Hunt said no one had died in Australia from a locally acquired case of COVID-19 this year. 

The Verdict

Health Minister Greg Hunt did not say that no one in Australia had died from a locally transmitted case of COVID-19, as claimed in the Facebook post. In fact, Mr Hunt correctly stated no one had died from a locally acquired case this year. Videos of his statement shared on social media have been selectively edited to remove this context.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

* AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.