Fact Check: Australian Health Organization Did NOT Use Actors To Portray COVID-19 Patients In Video -- They Are Real Patients

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Australian Health Organization Did NOT Use Actors To Portray COVID-19 Patients In Video -- They Are Real Patients Real Patients

Did New South Wales Health, an Australian government health organization, use actors to portray COVID-19 patients in a public health video? No, that's not true: The people featured in the video are real COVID-19 patients.

The shortened news report appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) published on September 13, 2021. The beginning of the video featured footage of a woman in a hospital bed discussing her battle with COVID-19. It then cut to Paul Barry, the host of Media Watch, an ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News program. In the report, Barry explained that the public health video was featured on several mainstream Australian news channels, including ABC News, but viewers soon questioned its authenticity. Next, Barry discussed the TikTok videos that propagated the claim of actors as COVID-19 patients. Those TikTok videos claimed to have identified the actors, who had the same first names as the patients and shared similar physical features.

The caption of the Instagram post read:

Covid actors!?

If it's so deadly, why the hiring of "actors?"
If the 'health' authorities are so concerned for people's well being, why are they not prescribing HCQ & Ivermectin - cheap drugs that ACTUALLY WORK!!! 🤔
Why are the nations with the highest Covid infection rates ALSO the highest vaccinated?
Why is it that people personally know of 5 or more deaths from the vaccine than know someone who's died of Covid?
Wakey wakey...

This is how the post looked on Instagram on September 13, 2021:

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Sep 13 19:28:41 2021 UTC)

The Instagram post does not include the full news report, which actually reported that the claim of actors as COVID-19 patients was false. The full news report can be found here. At the 2:25 mark in the video, Barry said:

So is Ramona a crisis actor pretending to have COVID for New South Wales Health? No, of course she's not. As New South Wales health made clear, the patient's name is not Ramona Khoury but Ramona Al-Nachar, who is a pharmacy worker. And as you can clearly see, they are two different people, despite the fact that both are women and both have dark hair.

The news report made a side-by-side comparison of Khoury and Al-Nachar to prove that they are not the same person, as shown in the screenshot from the news report below:

two ramona covid actors.PNG

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken at 2:41-mark on Mon Sep 13 15:10:59 2021 UTC)

At 2:47, Barry said:

And as for the two male patients, well, we're happy to tell you they are not crisis actors either.

The news report shared footage of an Instagram post from Mitch Garling, the actor whom a TikTok video claimed was one of the COVID-19 patients in the public health video. In Garling's Instagram post, he said:

It turns out that people are using my photo and my StarNow profile saying that I am an actor sitting in a hospital pretending to have COVID. Look, I am an actor...but, not pretending to have COVID, not that. Doesn't even look like me, has a beard, that's it.

On September 7, 2021, News South Wales Health even shared the ABC News report on its Facebook page. The caption read:

You may have heard claims on social media recently that COVID-19 patients featured in one of our videos were 'crisis actors'.

This is not true and Media Watch has debunked these claims.

Fawaz, Osama and Ramona were real COVID-19 patients in a real hospital, and we're very grateful to them for sharing their stories.

Please only use reputable sources for your COVID-19 information.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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