A WOMAN who took photos inside several hospitals and claimed Covid-19 was a "hoax" has been fined by police for breaching lockdown rules.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust slammed the Facebook post, which claimed St Richard's Hospital in Chichester was "not under pressure", as "highly disrespectful".

The post included images of the site showing empty corridors and beds.

Police said the allegations had been causing “angst in the community” and have fined the woman responsible.

A spokesman from Portsmouth Police said: "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.

READ MORE >> Covid: Sussex hospital trust rubbishes Facebook post

"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."

The post, which was published last week, claimed the government was "isolating" the nation.

It stated: "The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown and has instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

"These hospitals are not under pressure.

"You are being isolated and controlled by your government, for a virus with a recovery rate of 99.7 per cent."

"Misleading and inaccurate"

The current rules mean it is illegal to leave home without a "reasonable excuse", with police able to fie people £200 for a first offence.

This then doubles for further offences, up to a maximum of £6,400.

In an unprecedented move, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust shared a screenshot of the post on its social media pages and rubbished the claims.

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A spokesman said: "It is very disappointing to see misleading images and inaccurate comments on social media, suggesting that the NHS is not under pressure.

"This is untrue and highly disrespectful to all the patients and families affected by Covid, as well as our staff who are working extremely hard in very challenging circumstances.

"Currently at Western Sussex Hospitals we are caring for a large number of patients with Covid-19 - in fact, many more than during the peak of the first wave last April.

"We must stress, pictures of empty corridors do not mean our wards and intensive care units are empty.

"For ten months our teams have been working selflessly to care for people during the pandemic.

"This is an extremely difficult situation for us all and it is really important that we support each other and act responsibly.

"Please do not attend our hospitals unless you have an appointment, have arranged to visit a loved one or it is an emergency.

"You can help save lives by keeping yourself safe. Please stay home. Thank you."