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Did a nurse in France really punch a Covid-19 patient on oxygen?

Social media users have been sharing a shocking video that they say shows a nurse hitting a patient ill with Covid-19 in a French hospital. But is it true?
Social media users have been sharing a shocking video that they say shows a nurse hitting a patient ill with Covid-19 in a French hospital. But is it true? © Observers

A surveillance camera video allegedly depicting a nurse punching a Covid-19 patient on oxygen at a French hospital has been circulating on social media. Turns out, however, the brutal incident actually took place in Russia eight years ago.

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A social media user contacted France 24’s verification team at @InfoIntoxF24 to ask us to investigate the origin of this 45-second video, entitled "Covid 19 in France, Share the video". It shows a patient in bed, hooked up to a respirator, being hit several times by a medical staff member.

Un internaute a alerté la rédaction de @InfoIntoxF24 sur ce contenu.
Un internaute a alerté la rédaction de @InfoIntoxF24 sur ce contenu. © Twitter @InfoIntoxF24

One alarmed social media user commented on the video in French.

"This person needs to be arrested because they are making our country look bad,” he wrote. “We are welcomed here with open arms and look what happens. We denounce this Machiavellian, satanist behaviour occurring in our hospitals.” 

Where is this video from?

The low-quality video has also been digitally altered, with text added to the top. That makes it hard to research using the normal process. However, we took a screengrab from the video, depicting the patient lying on his bed (without the text).

Then, we ran that image through the Yandex search engine. We got two hits — both from British media outlets, The Sun and the Daily Mail.

Grâce à une recherche sur Yandex, on retrouve des articles de médias britanniques sur cette vidéo datant de 2014.
Grâce à une recherche sur Yandex, on retrouve des articles de médias britanniques sur cette vidéo datant de 2014. © Yandex

It turns out the incident took place in Russia in February 2013. The man in the blue scrubs, Andrey Votyakov, was the chief anesthesiologist at the Federal Centre for Cardiovascular Surgery in Perm, Siberia. He said that lost his temper and abused his patient after working non-stop for 36 hours.

“As soon as I came into the room with my team he started to call me various derogatory names. And I just got blown away by it,” he said. “We had spent so much time on his very complicated case, to help him recover, and he didn’t offer a single word of gratitude.”

The video was shared by numerous media outlets, including the Arabic-language SkyNews channel.

The patient in the video died in hospital not long after the incident, although it is unknown to what extent the beatings were related to his death. The video wasn’t released until July 2014, however, when the doctor was fired. He was sentenced to six months of community service and a 100,000 ruble fine [Editor’s note: 1,112 euros] in 2015.