Police Hunt COVID Denier Who Tried To Remove Patient From Hospital In Video

At the same time that the threat of the coronavirus itself reached pandemic levels, the spread of misinformation regarding the virus began to undermine public health efforts to combat its spread.

At least one study has tracked how various COVID-19 conspiracy theories have rose and fell over time, but many have had the dual effects of influencing people to take the virus less seriously and to distrust the vaccine protecting citizens from its potentially deadly effects.

Such a phenomenon has led Dr. Anthony Fauci to identify anti-vaccine attitudes as a major threat to the possibility of achieving herd immunity within the United States.

But while one video shows an extreme example of how coronavirus misinformation is doing similar damage within the United Kingdom, it's far from the only case identified there as a risk to health care workers and the public at large.

The video starts in the middle of a confrontation at a hospital in East Surrey, England in which a group of people are arguing with a health care worker about the decision to keep a patient on a ventilator.

As The Evening Standard reported, this group had gained access to a critical care ward on January 21 to visit a family member with the intention of bringing him home.

One of the individuals involved intended to remove the patient's ventilator, which lead the attending consultant to warn them that the patient will die if they do so.

Although the patient himself denied this would happen and seemed intent to go home himself, the consultant explained that he would last, at best, a half hour without oxygen.

He also warned the group that their actions were not only illegal, but were also putting the patient and themselves at risk.

According to The Evening Standard, some of the group involved were not wearing masks during this confrontation and the man filming the encounter claimed to be exempt from mask orders.

As the encounter went on, the consultant explained that the patient has pneumonia related to the coronavirus affecting both of his lungs.

The health care worker also explained that he was being treated for this with a steroid often used in COVID-19 cases called dexamethasone, as well as antibiotics to deal with bacterial infections that were happening at the same time.

This prompted the man filming the confrontation — who police have since identified as 45-year-old Tobe Hayden Leigh — to say that the patient's family had put in a written request to switch the patient's treatments to vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc. The consultant replied that those were not proven to be effective coronavirus treatments.

Eventually, Leigh declared that COVID-19 has not been proven to exist and claimed that it was declassified as a highly contagious disease on March 19, 2020.

It's unclear who supposedly made this declassification as this claim does not reflect the current perspectives of any government throughout the world nor their departments of health nor the World Health Organization.

According to The Guardian similar incidents that saw COVID-19 deniers clash with National Health Service workers have occurred in West Midlands and Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, London, Hampshire, Hillingdon, Colchester, and Croyden with at least seven fines and arrests levied in response.

As president of The Doctors’ Association UK Batt-Rawden said, “Staff are exhausted and are running on fumes. They should not be having to deal with abuse and even death threats on social media. Nor should they be worried about turning up for their shift due to crowds of people chanting ‘Covid is a hoax’ outside hospitals full of patients who are sick and dying. This is decimating morale, but worse still, could be obstructing patient care."

After Leigh denied the existence of COVID-19 outright, the consultant stopped engaging with him and waited for security personnel to eject the group from the hospital.

This began to occur by the end of the video and The Guardian reported that the group left the hospital premises after police issued a breach of the peace warning and two fines for breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

Police are now searching for Leigh in connection with the incident as well as his role in social media abuse that hospital staff have since received.

According to the Evening Standard, detectives are also seeking to apprehend Leigh because they've identified him as a public health risk.

As Chief Inspector Kimball Edey put it, "He came into close proximity with a patient who remains seriously ill with Covid and may well have contracted the virus himself."

The full video of the incident is available here and the actions depicted therein have drawn condemnation from police, The Doctors’ Association UK, and the NHS themselves.

In a statement, NHS Providers CEO Chris Hopson said, "Entering a Covid ward, putting patient and staff lives at risk and then posting a video online afterwards plumbs new lows. It’s not only dangerous, it’s also deeply disrespectful of the extraordinary efforts by frontline NHS staff who, day in, day out are working flat out to save the lives of seriously ill patients."

h/t: The Guardian, Evening Standard

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