NHS England announced 651 more COVID-19 deaths, including an unidentified 20-year-old who had no known underlying health condition. Another 110 were declared in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Fears were yesterday raised that the true size of Britain’s coronavirus death toll could be 50 per cent higher than the public is being told because of a backlog in recording deaths in hospitals and the failure to include fatalities in care homes and hospices.
Following new data revealing that one in four coronavirus deaths in Scotland have taken place in a care home setting, Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, has announced a move to testing all symptomatic patients in care homes, insisting:
“The residents of care homes matter as much to us as those in the community. It’s more important given their vulnerability that we do all we can to prevent infection and to control it.”
Washing and reusing protective equipment
Doctors are being forced to wash personal protective equipment (PPE) to reuse it and are dipping their hands in a bucket of steriliser because hand gel has run out.
Comments gathered by the British Medical Association (BMA) and shared with the PA news agency show how, as recently as Monday, medics were being forced to work without adequate PPE, with some turning to bin liners instead.
Meanwhile, a carer told LBC radio she was wearing swimming goggles due to a lack of PPE.
Some doctors have been told by their NHS trusts to reuse gowns and some have donated their share of PPE to nurses and healthcare assistants due to shortages.
On Monday, an obstetrics and gynaecology trainee in the South East said there has been no eye protection for the last three weeks and there were no facilities to clean footwear.
“Surgical masks are not fluid resistant,” they said. “There are no reinforced gowns for high volume procedures (e.g. C-section).
“PPE equipment is in short supply – and often locked away. We have bought more than £4,000 worth of PPE over the last four weeks as a group of trainees.”
On the same day, an anaesthetics trainee in Scotland said: “We’re having to wash our visors in disinfectant because we don’t have enough.
“We also ran out of hand gel briefly and were provided with a bucket of steriliser to dip our hands in.”
A core medicine trainee in the East of England said: “Trust is now asking us reuse single-use gowns not only between patients but also when we leave and return from breaks.”
A foundation year doctor on a Covid-19 ward for the elderly in the North West said on Monday: “After the death of two of our nursing colleagues, the trust, on the same day, announced that gowns would no longer be amply provided, and we had to ration the remaining supplies amongst our staff, on our ward.
“We decided to let our nurses and healthcare assistants have priority with the gowns, as they have more patient contact-time. As the gowns completely ran out, some staff used bin bags instead.”