A woman who visited hospitals to expose what she falsely claimed were empty hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic has been fined £200 for breaking COVID regulations.
Photos taken inside Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra hospital, as well as images and videos from inside Southampton General hospital, the Princess Royal University hospital near Bromley, Kent, and St Richard’s hospital in Chichester were condemned after she posted them on Facebook.
The mother-of-two described the the Queen Alexandra as “the quietest I have ever seen it”.
It comes as hospital figures hit a new high in the UK, with 35,075 COVID patients on wards as of Monday – a 22% increase from last week.
Police in Portsmouth have now issued Dean with a £200 fixed-penalty notice for not having a valid reason to leave her home during the lockdown, while Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust refuted her claims.
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The trust wrote on Facebook: “We continue to be incredibly busy, and we are very grateful for all our wonderful teams who work so hard, and the local communities who support us.”
Confirming Dean’s fine, Portsmouth Police added: “Some of you will have seen the reports of persons attending local hospitals, taking photos of parts of the hospital that are not on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, and using the images to suggest are hospitals are not being stretched.
“These actions have caused angst in the community, and have prompted a number of calls to us reporting the posts.
“We have identified the source of the posts and have today issued a fixed penalty notice to the person responsible under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020.”
According to The Times, Dean said police told her “they have no grounds to detain me”.
Despite the fine being issued, Dean insisted: “I am not under investigation. I have not been fined.”
A Facebook group with over 13,000 members set up to share images of hospitals that are allegedly empty was taken down last week, while a second one was also removed on Tuesday.
Dean, who said she always wore masks during her visits, denies claiming that COVID was not real but insisted that “not all hospitals are overrun and under pressure”.
As of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 45,533 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 3,118,518.
Home secretary Priti Patel said a minority of the public are “putting the health of the nation at risk” as she backed a tougher police approach to lockdown rules.
Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday, she said officers are moving more quickly to issuing fines where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations, with nearly 45,000 fixed-penalty notices issued across the UK since March.
Last week, Sir Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, said videos showing what they claimed were empty hospitals were “a lie”.
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