Watch: Councillor makes bizarre claim that COVID 'is a fake virus' at protest
A town councillor in County Durham has been caught on camera ranting against lockdown restrictions and claiming COVID-19 is a “fake virus”.
Irene Hewitson, who sits as independent member of Great Aycliffe Town Council, says she does not believe COVID exists, despite the death toll from the disease sitting at over 1 million worldwide, including 45,000 deaths in the UK, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Hewitson, 63, said at an anti-lockdown protest in Durham city on Monday that if current restrictions continue, it will be "like living in North Korea”.
She told ChronicleLive: "We're being locked down over a fake virus. I don't believe the virus exists.
“When my neighbours, relatives, friends and work people are dying around me then I'll believe it's true.
"I've got a friend who works in the Nightingale Hospital and they’ve never had one patient. They’ve been cleaning a hospital for six months. It's absolutely disgusting.”
Durham city has been identified as a coronavirus hotspot in the UK after recording 616 new cases in the week ending 16 October.
Meanwhile, 1,725 students and 20 members of staff at Durham University have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of term.
But Hewitson believes the pandemic would be over if people just returned to their normal lives.
She added: "I think if people turned their TVs off and just took their masks off, got back to normal then the virus would be gone.
"I'm 63-year-old and I've never worn a mask, I've never used hand sanitiser and I've never had a day's illness.
“And I won't because I’m building up an immunity if there is a little tiny virus out there like the flu.
"People need to wake up fast because before long we're going to have no jobs, no social life, no life at all. It's going to be like living in North Korea."
Great Aycliffe Town Council said Hewitson was “expressing a personal opinion” and “not in her role as a councillor and member of Great Aycliffe Town Council”.
They added: “Great Aycliffe Town Council does not agree with councillor Hewitson’s views regarding COVID-19 and does not endorse her actions.”
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