No, French hospitals are not using mannequins as fake Covid-19 patients
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Since early January, some people online have been sharing a photo of a dummy in a hospital bed, claiming it was used in a TV report by French broadcaster BFM in order to trick people about the severity of the latest wave of Covid in France. They say that hospitals aren't really full, and that they're packing beds with mannequins to make the situation seem worse. But in reality, these images come from a hospital simulation in Quebec, and they were never aired on BFMTV.
“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...” This was the caption above an image shared on an anti-vaccine Facebook page on January 6.
The photo shows a mannequin, laying on a hospital bed, separated from the medical team by a protective barrier. On the top left of the image, there's the logo for French news channel BFMTV, and on the bottom a banner saying "Castex tested positive for Covid-19", referring to the French prime minister's positive diagnosis on November 22, 2021.
Posts like these had already been debunked by French media, like AFP Factuel, but began spreading again, this time for an international audience in various languages.
A demonstration video in a Quebec hospital
As explained by AFP Factuel, the original image can be found with a reverse image search using the search engine Yandex. The photo of the mannequin appears online without the BFM logo. Other images show the same scene, from another angle, with a logo saying "Quebec".
You can then do a keyword search with the words "Covid", "mannequin" and "Quebec" to find an article from Radio Canada on October 8, 2021, which explains the context.
The article says that the photo in question comes from a Radio Canada report broadcast on April 17, 2020, titled "At the heart of a Covid-19 hospital". It was taken at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pulmonology in Quebec. The report shows the protocol given to Covid patients in emergency situations, using dummies for a simulation.
At the beginning of the clip, the journalists asks a doctor why they are only seeing a simulation: "Doctor Simon, when you go through the doors, when you find yourself in the Covid zone, what do you find, what does it look like, we haven't seen that yet?"
Mathieu Simon, head of the institute's intensive care unit replies, "I couldn't take you there to protect you, obviously, when you go through the Covid zone, you mainly see very dedicated staff."
A photo edited to look like a BFMTV report
Why does the image appear with what looks like the interface of a BFMTV report, with the time at the top left, and the banner at the bottom?
A forensic analysis with the InVid WeVerify tool (click here to find out how), allows us to identify a difference in pixels where the BFMTV banner and logo appear.
These inconsistencies between the photo of the mannequin and the banner indicate that the two photos have been assembled, and that it is therefore a photoshop job.