Conspiracy theorists stalk ’empty’ hospitals at night claiming ‘Covid is hoax’
While NHS staff say they are "near breaking point" as they deal with the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, a minority of conspiracy theorists are stalking hospital corridors at night, making videos that they claim "prove" that hospitals are empty.
One man menaced security guards at the Nightingale North West hospital in Manchester, demanding to be shown "where all the dead people and sick people are".
In another shocking incident, a conspiracy theorist sneaked into the children’s ward of the Princess Royal University Hospital in south-east London late at night, filming areas of the hospital that would not be used for ICU patients, such as outpatient corridors and waiting rooms.
One conspiracy theorist posted a video recorded in the main reception area of Croydon University Hospital, with the person filming claiming that had "never seen it so empty".
But a hospital spokesperson told the BBC "We have a one-way system in the main entrance to help with social distancing when entering or leaving the hospital. The video shows this person arriving via the exit.
They added: "The video was also filmed overnight, when the coffee shops would be closed and when we would expect to see our corridors less busy."
But still, just one of the Facebook groups dedicated to sharing pictures and videos of "empty" hospitals has more than 13,000 members.
Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, told The Times: "Everyone working in A&E, medical wards, critical care and other areas with Covid-19 patients knows only too well these photos are the complete opposite of reality.
"It is much worse than being told the world is flat or that the Moon landings were faked, people may die because of it.
"If the public think there is no crisis in hospitals and they don’t need to play their part, the virus will kill many more."
David Oliver, an NHS consultant physician who is currently working on coronavirus wards, says that the "empty hospital" videos are deeply distressing to under-pressure medics.
"They’re trying to discredit NHS staff," he said.
Dr Oliver added that even when being treated for their potentially deadly disease, some people refuse to accept that it exists.
"Any doctor will tell you they’ve seen patients who are really sick with Covid and either the patient or their own family say: 'Sorry doctor, but we don’t believe it’s real and I don’t think we’ve really got it. We’ve heard all about the false tests,'" he said.
Sir Simon Stevens, England's Chief Executive of the NHS, angrily described the videos as "a lie".
He said: "It is also an insult to the nurse coming home from 12 hours in critical care having worked her guts out under the most demanding and trying of circumstances."
Some 30 hospitals have been targeted so far by virus deniers, who have reportedly have raised around £80,000 to amount a legal challenge against the government and the Metropolitan Police to stop lockdown rules being enforced.
Elsewhere, a video widely shared online that seemed to show a woman being arrested in breach of lockdown for sitting on a bench was "stage-managed" by anti-lockdown activists, say Dorset police
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