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Fact check: Video does not show UK hospital with empty A&E department and does not provide proof that the pandemic is a hoax

A video showing a group of men who say that an empty A&E department lobby shows hospitals are not overwhelmed due to COVID-19 was filmed at a hospital that does not have an A&E department or treat COVID-19 patients.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The video (here) shows three men who attempt to visit an A&E at Kidderminster Hospital in Worcestershire, England. In the video, they repeatedly say that they are going to an A&E (timestamps 0.19, 2.17, 2.49) to show that the COVID-19 crisis was not “justifiable to be called a pandemic” (timestamp 1.50). After they enter a building they describe as an A&E, and see no patients in the lobby area, they leave and conclude “there is nothing going on” and “this ain’t a pandemic” (timestamps 3.24 and 3.50).

Kidderminster Hospital, where the video was filmed, has not had an A&E unit for more than 20 years (here and here and here). The area that the men filmed in was a Minor Injuries Unit, as seen in a sign on the lobby wall (timestamp 2.16). While the men in the video can be heard using the phrase “Minor Injuries Unit” interchangeably with A&E, these do not serve the same function (Download here: here).

A NHS spokesperson confirmed that patients with COVID-19 should not present themselves at Minor Injury Units and, in general, would be brought to an A&E department in an ambulance. This tallies with public advice hosted on the NHS website (here). The NHS spokesperson also confirmed that COVID-19 patients are not treated at Kidderminster Hospital.

The word “Pandemic” is used to describe an epidemic or outbreak of disease that has spread to multiple countries on several continents and affects an exceptionally large number of people (here). The ongoing COVID-19 situation fulfils these conditions.

Matthew Hopkins, the Chief Executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said in a statement emailed to Reuters: “I am sure anyone who saw or heard about these videos would share my sense of disgust and outrage that anyone would seek to peddle such toxic fake news while NHS staff across the country are facing the devastating impact of the pandemic every day.

“Their actions were reckless and their agenda of denying the impact of Covid is both ignorant and potentially life threatening. We have a very difficult job to do and this kind of stupidity risks damaging staff morale at the worst possible time.”

VERDICT

False. The video which claims to show an A&E was filmed at a hospital that does not have an A&E department. Further claims that the lack of activity at the hospital indicates that the COVID-19 crisis is not a pandemic are false given that the hospital does not treat COVID-19 patients. The ongoing COVID-19 situation fulfils the conditions for a pandemic.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here (here).

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