Health official warns ‘much of the impact of coronavirus is sadly unavoidable’
A UK doctor, working on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis, has warned that “several patients under 40” are in hospital on ventilators after contracting the dealy COVID-19.
The health worker, an NHS anesthetist, is battling against the coronavirus and spoke anonymously to Sky News.
“We have well over 50 cases as of the weekend and our intensive care is nearly full of coronavirus patients on breathing support machines,” the doctor says.
“One patient is sent for ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) at another hospital – a kind of bypass where a machine injects oxygen into the blood because the lungs have become too damaged to sustain life even on a ventilator.
“We have just five centers in the UK capable of providing this service and they are very quickly filled.
“Patients are not put onto this kind of life support unless they were fit and healthy before their illness.”
“Requiring this treatment means you are as sick as it is possible to be and it takes an awful lot of time, resources and biological resilience to recover,” the health official continues.
“Essentially, ECMO buys your body time to recover from illness itself.
“It is simply not true that only the very elderly who we can imagine ‘would have died soon anyway’ will get sick.
“I have looked after more than one patient who is in their early 60s with minor or no health complaints and who exercises regularly.
“They are not your grandparents,” the doctor insists.
“They are your colleague, your boss, your Pilates buddy.
“They are people very much still contributing to society who would perform well on any standard measure of fitness.
“I want you to know that young people can and do become critically unwell and die from COVID-19.
“A colleague of mine is currently looking after several patients under the age of 40, all on ventilators.
“We know from other countries that most of these younger patients will survive.
“But they will take a long time to recover – often in a hospital.
“The impact of a sudden influx of coronavirus patients affects all parts of the health system.”
“Much of the impact of coronavirus is sadly unavoidable,” the doctor adds.
“Whichever model of spread the government chooses to adopt, we will be overwhelmed.”
Early on Tuesday, the UK government ramped up measures against the coronavirus epidemic following new predictions that the country could otherwise have seen 250,000 deaths.
A new document published by the COVID-19 team at London’s Imperial College – which is advising the government on its coronavirus response – warns the current public health threat is the “most serious” from a respiratory virus since the Spanish Flu in 1918.
They advised the UK adopts a strategy of “epidemic suppression” – for a period of potentially 18 months or more – rather than “mitigation.”
Modeling of the “most effective” mitigation strategy examined had revealed that NHS capacities could be exceeded by at least eightfold – and about 250,000 people could die.
The Imperial team described the suppression of the coronavirus outbreak as “the only viable strategy at the current time” – even if the “social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound.”
They said: “Many countries have adopted such measures already, but even those countries at an earlier stage of their epidemic [such as the UK] will need to do so imminently.”
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a significant escalation of UK measures in response to coronavirus, including advising everyone in the country to avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants, and theatres and to only make essential journeys.