Coronavirus: COVID deniers looking for evidence pandemic isn't real kicked out of UK hospital

People claiming the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax had to be removed from a UK hospital at the weekend.

They were stalking the corridors of Colchester Hospital, BBC News reports, looking for evidence the virus - which has killed more than 75,000 Brits and killing hundreds every day - isn't that bad. 

Chief executive Nick Hulme said it "beggars belief", and security removed "people who were taking photographs of empty corridors and then posting them on social media, saying the hospital is not in crisis".

"When you've got that sort of social media pressure and those people denying the reality of COVID it really concerns us. Words fail me," he told BBC News. "Why would people do that when we all know somebody who has died from COVID?"

A video appearing to show few people waiting for urgent treatment has circulated on social media over the past week. 

Rather than a sign the pandemic doesn't exist, he said the corridors and waiting room were sparsely populated due to strict social distancing rules and the fact many patients were having consultations done elsewhere, online or via the telephone. Tests for COVID-19 were being done off-site to avoid crowding at both Colchester Hospital and Ipswich Hospital, which Hulme runs as head of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. 

"Of course there are empty corridors at the weekend in outpatients, because that's the right thing to do. We are facing the biggest health challenge we've ever seen and we are still seeing people flouting the [social distancing] rules."

There are in fact hundreds of people being treated at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, he said. 

England on Tuesday (NZ time) went back into lockdown, a new strain of the virus seeing tens of thousands of new infections reported every day. 

Studies have found the reported number of cases is actually likely a vast underestimate, possibly by a factor of 10, while deaths are also likely being underreported - excess mortality figures between 30 and 60 percent higher than official COVID-19 death counts