Fact Check-Screenshot of French news clip altered to include image of hospital training with mannequin

The screenshot of a news segment by French outlet BFM TV has been altered to include the image of a mannequin in a hospital.

“France: hospitals are so saturated with the omicron variant that there is not even time to put the arms to the mannequins for the media…,” reads the text accompanying the altered image.

An Jan. 6 Instagram post with the montage has garnered over 7,500 likes ( here ). Other iterations are viewable ( here ), ( here ).

Some users sharing this image claim the scene is evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic is fake. “This pandemic is made to get us into simulation mode,” reads part of a comment on Instagram. “The world is a stage,” another user wrote.

The montage was created by combining to unrelated screengrabs: the newsclip elements (see blue banner with a text that reads: “Castex tests positive for COVID-19” (translated from French) from BFMTV was extracted from the preview of this video ( here ) (see the hour indication 22:01 on the top left corner); it originally showed footage of French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

The image of the mannequin can be found in a video from the University Institute of Cardiology and Respirology of Quebec (around timestamp 1:31, ) published on April 23, 2020. It shows a training video of healthcare professionals to treat COVID-19 patients at an intensive care unit.

One of the early iterations of the montage identified by Reuters was posted by a Twitter user in French. Responding to comments from other about the image being altered, the user responded “Obviously it's a montage. Obviously it's a joke...” ( here ), ( ).

The meme also falsely suggests the alleged broadcast was aired in relation to the spread of the Omicron variant, but the news about Castex’s COVID-19 positive test traces back to Nov. 22, 2021, four days before such variant was classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization ( here ).

Reuters previously addressed similar claims in Spanish, here.


Altered. This screenshot does not show an authentic transmission from outlet BFM TV; an image from a Canadian hospital training video was added to the news coverage of French Prime Minister Jean Castex testing positive for COVID-19.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.