UK COVID-19 Daily: Two Nurses Remembered

Tim Locke

April 03, 2020

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Two Nurses Remembered

UK COVID-19 hospital deaths rose by 684 today, taking the total to 3605.

Among the deaths announced today were two nurses. 

Thirty-six-old Areema Nasreen wasn't thought to have any underlying health conditions. She died at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands where she had worked for 16 years. A friend posted on Facebook: "She was the most loveliest, genuine person you could ever meet, she went above and beyond for everyone she met."

Richard Beeken, chief executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said in a statement: "Any death is devastating but losing one of our own is beyond words."

He continued: "Her vocation in nursing was clear for all to see and she always said that she was so blessed to have the role of a nurse which she absolutely loved because she wanted to feel like 'she could... make a difference' – and you did, Areema, you will be very sadly missed." 

Aimee O'Rourke, 39, died after being treated at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent where she worked. One of her daughters posted on Facebook: "You are an angel and you will wear your NHS crown forever more because you earned that crown the very first day you started!!!"

Susan Acott, chief executive of East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "Aimee was a really valuable part of our work family. She was a kind and caring nurse and was hugely popular with staff and patients alike. We will forever remember her smile, her concern for her patients and her colleagues, and her willingness to always go above and beyond."

Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May told the daily Downing Street briefing: "My sincere condolences to their families, their friends and their colleagues, because they were one of us. They were one of my profession, of the NHS family.

"I worry that there's going to be more. 

"And I want to honour them today, and recognise their service." 

Ruth May asked people to stay home to honour their memory. "This weekend is going to be very warm, and it's very tempting to go out and enjoy those summer rays. But please, I ask you to remember Aimee and Areema. Please stay at home for them."

Clinical Trials

Although Health Secretary Matt Hanock went back to work yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in self-isolation with COVID-19. He still has a fever.

Mr Hancock said one of his symptoms was loss of taste which isn’t currently among the officially listed symptoms. Experts are reviewing data on taste and smell, but the briefing heard it was too soon for it to be included.

He also talked about three national clinical trials taking place to cover primary care, hospital care, and critical care.

"These trials are looking at the effects of existing drugs and steroids repurposed for treatment of COVID-19," he said. "One of the trials, which is called RECOVERY [Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy], which deals in hospital care, is the largest of its kind in the world, with 926 patients enrolled. 

"We've also set up an expert therapeutics task force to search for and shortlist other candidate medicines for trials."

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy CMO, added: "Clinical trials are a gold standard way to discover if a treatment works or not, but saying whether it works or not is rather too simplistic. 

"The treatment has to be effective. It also has to be safe. And we also have to understand the right dosage to use, the right patients to give the treatment to, and the right time in the illness to give that treatment. This is complicated stuff. And the only way to unpick the signal, and make sure we get it right, is through clinical trials."

He said trials were looking at repurposed medicines, like hydroxychloroquine. Oversight and coordination will come from a 'therapeutics taskforce', and more patients were needed to participate.

"We are determined in the next round of clinical trials to move on to new medicines," he said.
 

More Field Hospitals

Prince Charles, recently recovered from COVID-19, opened the first NHS Nightingale Hospital at London's ExCel Centre via video link. He called it "a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work". 

NHS England announced two more Nightingales will be built in Bristol and Harrogate to join those in London, Manchester, and Birmingham. Scotland is converting the  Scottish Events Campus (SEC) to turn it into NHS Louisa Jordan.

Wales is building temporary facilities at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff Bay, Swansea Bay, Llanelli, and Llandudno.
 

Immunity Certificates Plan 'Fraught With Problems'

Yesterday the Government confirmed it was looking at introducing immunity certificates so people can prove they've recovered from COVID-19, and therefore have immunity. These are "superficially attractive but in reality fraught with problems," Prof Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology, Nottingham Trent University, commented today via the Science Media Centre. 

These couldn't work like vaccination certificates used for travel, he said. "First, the science is just not there and will not be quickly."

He continued: "Second, there is considerable scientific uncertainty about who will develop immunity and how long that will last for."  

He concluded: "Third, as a sociologist, I also recognize the risks of a black market in certificates and of the stigmatisation of people who do not have them. We have enough social divisions in our society without adding another one."

Mr Hancock said 7000 NHS staff have now been swab tested for COVID-19 in England.
 

More News in Brief

  • The first UK coronavirus deaths occurred earlier than originally thought, according to new data. The Guardian said six COVID-19 deaths in English hospitals occurred as early as February rather than from 5th March as previously stated. Reporting delays also led to significant recent underreporting in Scotland.

  • Ruth May was asked about reports of some frail, disabled, and elderly patients being asked to sign Do Not Resuscitate orders. She said advanced care planning discussions happened all the time but "COVID-19 is no excuse to have those discussions in an insensitive way."

  • Prof Jonathan Van-Tam was asked if the public should start wearing face masks to reduce their COVID-19 risk. "There is no evidence that general wearing of face masks by the public who are well affects the spread of the disease in our society. What matters right now, of course, is social distancing," he said.  

  • An NHS debt write-off totalling £13.4 billion was announced for hospitals in England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday: "As we tackle this crisis, nobody in our health service should be distracted by their hospital’s past finances."

  • The Queen is to make a special TV address to the UK and Commonwealth about COVID-19 on Sunday. This will be only the fourth time she's recorded such a message. Previous messages were about the Queen Mother's funeral, the death of Princess Diana, and the Gulf War.

See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

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