Related topics

No, Swiss health minister did not visit a hospital filled with mannequins

December 18, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Swiss health minister Alain Berset was photographed in a hospital room in Switzerland with mannequins posing as COVID-19 patients. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Swiss Interior and Health Minister Alain Berset was not in a hospital but was photographed in a university training room for nursing students. The training room had medical mannequins to simulate patients. 

THE FACTS: Berset has been touring Switzerland where he visits health facilities affected by the pandemic. On Dec. 16, Berset visited two locations: Pourtalès Hospital, part of the Neuchâtel Hospital Network, and Haute Ecole Arc Santé, a university in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. 

Photographer Laurent Gilliéron took photos of the visits for Keystone, a Swiss news agency. Several photos captured the health minister standing in front of mannequins in the university’s training room that imitates a hospital. The medical mannequins are for nursing students to practice on. 

“Federal Councilor Alain Berset speaks during a visit to a practical classroom at the Haute Ecole Arc Sante during his visit to the canton of Neuchatel during the 2nd wave of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic this Wednesday, December 16, 2020 in Neuchatel,” reads the caption of a photo showing Berset with the medical mannequins. 

Gilliéron told the AP in an email that Berset discussed the training of future health care workers with teachers and students during his visit.

Earlier that day, Berset met with staff in the intensive care unit at Pourtalès Hospital. According to Gilliéron, Berset didn’t meet patients at the hospital. 

A Swiss media outlet published the photo of the classroom, miscaptioning it as the hospital. Social media users made false claims that Berset visited a hospital room filled with mannequins, pushing the false conspiracy that the pandemic is a hoax, and that hospitals aren’t full of COVID-19 patients. 

“Swiss health minister Alain Berset, was kind enough to move around and visit all the sick MANNEQUINS who are suffering from the virus! What a nice gesture!!” a Facebook user wrote in French.  

“Swiss Health Minister visiting some mannequins in hospital. Very kind of him,” a Twitter user wrote. The post had over 1,200 retweets. 

“When hospitals are being filled with dummies, what could have gone wrong with the ‘Covid-19 inspection?’ The picture taken from Alain Berset’s visit to a hospital in Neuchatel, Switzerland,” another Twitter user wrote. 

Swiss media outlet Blick published an article on Dec. 18 clarifying that they mistakenly captioned the photo of Berset at the school to say he was at the hospital. 


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: