A man is being sought by police after a group of people abused hospital staff when they were stopped from removing a COVID-19 patient.
Officers have warned the public that Tobe Hayden Leigh might himself have coronavirus and that he poses a public health risk.
Police have released an image of the 45-year-old from Maidstone, Kent, in connection with the incident at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill on 21 January in which the police had to be called.
A video posted to social media shows a man saying that COVID-19 “had not been proven to exist” and that he was taking the patient from the hospital home.
Over 100,000 have died with the virus in the UK alone.
A medic is seen telling the maskless man that the patient is getting treated with oxygen, antibiotics and steroids for coronavirus pneumonia affecting both his lungs.
The hospital worker added that the patient would “last about half an hour” before dying if the oxygen is removed.
A spokesman from Surrey Police said numerous comments and videos which were abusive towards hospital staff were posted to social media on 23 January.
They said: “On investigation, these posts related to an earlier incident at the hospital, on Thursday 21 January, when a number of people, some of whom were not wearing masks, gained access to the critical care ward to visit a family member and were abusive towards hospital staff when they were asked to do so. They also refused to leave.
“Officers attended and issued fines to two individuals involved for breaching COVID restrictions and issued a breach of the peace warning, which resulted in the group leaving the location.”
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey said: “We would like to speak to Hayden Leigh in connection with this incident, and the escalating abusive and threatening comments being made towards hospital staff on social media.
“These comments are extremely concerning, and are obviously causing considerable distress for those who are being targeted.
“The staff at the hospital, as are all NHS workers, are trying to care for desperately ill people in extremely challenging circumstances, and to be targeted and abused on social media in this way is simply unacceptable.”
He added: “We also need to track Hayden Leigh down as a matter of urgency due to the public health risk he poses.
“He came into close proximity with a patient who remains seriously ill with COVID and may well have contracted the virus himself.
“We are appealing for any information and any help we can get from the public to find this man so that we can deal with him appropriately.”