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19 healthcare workers in UK have died after testing positive for Covid-19

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Liverpool. Picture: Phil Noble/Reuters

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Liverpool. Picture: Phil Noble/Reuters

Published Apr 11, 2020

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LONDON - Britain has not yet reached the

Covid-19 peak which would allow for an easing of tight

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restrictions of movement, health minister Matt Hancock said on

Saturday.

The death toll in British hospitals has reached almost

9,000, with 980 more deaths reported on Friday, a figure which

exceeded the deadliest day so far in Italy, the country worst

hit by the virus.

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Among those who have been infected is Prime Minister Boris

Johnson, who is recovering in hospital after spending three

nights in intensive care. His office said he was improving and

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was back on his feet although his recovery was still at an early

stage.

Britain imposed a lockdown three weeks ago in a bid to curb

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the spread of the virus and the government has come under

increasing pressure to detail how long the strict measures on

movements would last, with people forced to stay at home and

many businesses unable to operate.

Ministers have said Britain needed to pass the peak of the

outbreak before changes could be made, and Hancock said although

the number of hospital admissions had started to flatten out,

there was not enough evidence yet to have confidence they were

past the worst.

"Our judgement is we're not there yet. We haven't seen a

flattening enough to be able to say that we've reached the

peak," he told BBC radio.

Some scientists have suggested the peak might still be some

weeks off but Hancock said "nobody knows" when it would be.

"There's all sorts of suggestions. Their job is to make

their best estimate and advise us and we have a whole load of

different pieces of advice from different scientists," he said.

The death rate is also expected to increase over the next

few days, health officials have cautioned, but they say they are

hopeful that the lockdown will mean that the overall number of

deaths will be below 20,000.

Initially Johnson took a more modest response to the

outbreak than other European leaders but changed tack when

projections suggested a quarter of a million people could die in

the United Kingdom.

The government has come under fire for its initial response

and a lack of preparedness, and there was criticism on Saturday

from doctors and nurses who said they were having to treat

patients without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such

as masks and gloves.

Among those to have died after testing positive for Covid-19

are 19 healthcare workers including 11 doctors.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors,

said medics were facing a "heart-breaking" decision over whether

to treat patients without proper protection and so put

themselves at risk.

"No doctor should ever have to be in harm’s way when they go

to work, and in these unprecedented times, this has never been

more important," said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA council chair.

The Royal College of Nursing said it was getting calls about

shortages, saying some staff were "petrified".

Hancock said 761 million PPE items had been delivered to the

1.4 million staff who worked for the National Health Service but

there were issues in ensuring in reached the frontline.

"There's clearly more to do to make sure every single person

who needs it gets the PPE that they need," he said.

Reuters

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