A 55-year-old hospital consultant died of coronavirus, highlighting the danger to workers in the national health service.
NHS England said Amged el-Hawrani was the first confirmed hospital worker to die after testing positive for coronavirus. A 63-year-old surgeon, Adil el Tayar, also died last week after volunteering in the Midlands emergency rooms to help the NHS cope with the pandemic.
El-Hawrani was an ear, nose and throat specialist at Queen’s Hospital Burton in Derbyshire. He died on Saturday at the Leicester Royal Infirmary after testing positive for Covid-19.
The professor. Stephen Powis, national medical director of the NHS, said: “The NHS is a family and we all deeply feel the loss of one of our colleagues, as we all continue to unite and work together to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. Amged’s death is not just an individual human tragedy, but a harsh reminder for the whole country that we all must take this crisis seriously. “
Deputy Medical Director, Dr Jenny Harries, said of Hawrani: “It is clearly a worrying event. It is worrying for the nation because it is another death in our statistics, another loss for a family. And it will also be a loss for an SSN family … It is not in anyone’s interest that we lose our colleagues. “
El-Hawrani’s death was one of 209 coronavirus victims announced in the UK in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in the UK to 1,228. The increase was smaller than expected, but health experts warned against seeing any glimmer of hope in the statistics as pressure increased on the government to increase testing.
The Department of Health and Social Assistance announced that 19,522 had tested positive for the disease in the UK after 6,961 more tests on the last day. That test rate is less than the 10,000 tests promised by the government and well below the 25,000 tests a day promised by Boris Johnson.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has joined ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt, asking to speed up testing for the virus.
Speaking of Sky News, Blair said: “It’s about starting mass tests as quickly as possible, because we need to know who has the disease and who has had the disease to ease the blockade and get people back to work.”
In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, Hunt said: “With mass tests, accompanied by a rigorous track record of every person a Covid-19 patient has been in contact with, it is possible to break the chain of transmission.
Meanwhile, epidemiologists have warned that the death toll will continue to rise faster for days and weeks to come.
Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said: “It would be very wise to deduce any trend from the one-day data. Only when the epidemic has peaked – which has been a long time ago – and we get reductions daily incurred in new cases and therefore daily reductions in deaths we will know that we are beginning to overcome the epidemic. “
Duncan Young, a professor of intensive medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “Unfortunately, this is probably caused by late reporting over the weekend rather than a change in the rate of spread of the virus.”
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, president of the Cambridge University’s Winton Center for Risk and Evidence Reporting, said: “It may seem foolish to say that 209 deaths are reassuring, but it stops the run at 30% of the daily increases we’ve seen lately.”
But he added: “It is still too early to say that the curve is starting to flatten out. It is also important not to over-interpret the counts for single days; Delays in reporting can lead to numbers that vary much more than you’d expect on your own. “
He stressed that one of the deaths reported on Sunday occurred 13 days ago.
London hospitals continue to be most affected by the pandemic. Of the 190 deaths recorded in England in the past 24 hours, 15 have been to the Barts Health Trust, 10 to the Royal Free and seven to Lewisham and Greenwich.
But the figures also confirm that Midland hospitals are facing increasing pressure. There were seven deaths in Birmingham university hospitals and six in acute Worcestershire hospitals.
The latest figures also included six more deaths in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 21, one more in Scotland, where the total is 41 and another 10 in Wales, bringing the total to 48.
Public Health Wales revealed that 514, or more than 41% of the 1,241 confirmed coronavirus cases in Wales, were on the Health Council of Aneurin Bevan University. The area includes Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital, which has been severely affected by the virus. Last weekend it was announced that five patients had died there, including Marita Edwards, the first hospital-acquired coronavirus victim in the UK.