UK COVID-19 Daily: 5-Year-Old Among Latest Deaths

Tim Locke

April 04, 2020

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

5-Year-Old Among Latest Deaths

UK COVID-19 hospital deaths rose by 708 today, bringing the total to 4313, the largest daily rise yet.

"Unfortunately, that is likely to continue over the next week or 2, until we get on top and stop this virus. And by doing that, we will see a reduction in the number of deaths," Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, told the daily Downing Street briefing. 

In England, the deaths ranged from the youngest so far, a 5-year-old, to a person aged 104.

Forty of those who died, aged 48 to 93, had no known underlying health conditions.

The Midlands recorded the highest number of deaths in England, 212, followed by London, 127.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove reminded the Downing Street briefing: "Seven healthcare professionals have now lost their lives to COVID-19, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to the grieving families." 

Prof Powis was asked if some flattening of hospital admissions was a hopeful sign: "There is reason to be hopeful that some of the changes that we are observing in infections, and perhaps in hospitalisations, is now reflecting the benefit of the social distancing that everybody is complying with, but it will still take time for that to have its maximum effect."

He was also asked about the deaths of 13 residents of the Burlington Court care home in Glasgow, which like others in the community are not reflected in the daily hospital death statistics. So how much higher might UK deaths be?  "I would expect that deaths will be higher than the number that are reported from hospitals, but I think it will only be in the days and weeks ahead as that data starts to come through from ONS [Office for National Statistics] we’ll be able to answer the question," he said. 

When it came to hospital capacity, Prof Powis said: "We have worked hard to make sure that we're ahead of the curve."

He continued: "We still have capacity within the NHS, even in London. We are ahead of this surge." 

Today patients were told not to attend Watford General's emergency department "until further notice, even in an emergency". West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said more information would be released soon.

More NICE Rapid Guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued more rapid COVID-19 guidelines on severe asthma, pneumonia, rheumatological disorders, and symptom management in community settings.

Community Management of symptoms, including end of life care NICE guideline [NG163]

This guideline covers management of cough, fever, breathlessness, and anxiety, delirium and agitation in those with COVID-19. Mild coughs should be treated with simple measures, and patients should avoid lying on their backs. If a cough is more severe and distressing, codeine linctus, codeine phosphate tablets, or morphine sulfate oral solution could be considered for short-term use.

Severe Asthma NICE guideline [NG166]

Treatment should continue to be taken as prescribed and only essential appointments should be attended - alone if possible. Patients should be advised to regularly clean face masks and mouth pieces, and never share inhalers and devices.

Pneumonia NICE guideline [NG165]

Pneumonia is currently more likely to be caused by the COVID-19 virus than bacteria, NICE said, so antibiotics should only be offered if bacteria are the likely cause, or the cause is unclear, symptoms are more concerning, or the person is at high risk of developing complications. Medical help should be sought without delay if symptoms don’t improve or worsen rapidly. When possible, NICE said, clinicians should discuss the risks, benefits and possible likely outcomes of treatment options with patients with COVID-19, so that they can express their preferences about their treatment.

Rheumatological autoimmune, inflammatory,  and metabolic bone disorders NICE guideline [NG167]

Patients with COVID-19 should not suddenly stop taking their medication but should seek advice on which medicines to continue and which to temporarily stop. If they feel unwell, patients should contact their rheumatology team about medicines issues. If their condition worsens, patients should contact NHS 111 and healthcare professionals should use NHS England’s COVID-19 clinical guide on appropriate treatments.

5G Fake News

The briefing was asked about reports of people burning down 5G mobile phone masks because of concerns the signals spread coronavirus. "The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish," Stephen Powis said. "It's nonsense. It's the worst kind of fake news. 

"The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us, particularly in a time when we are asking people to stay at home and to not see relatives and friends. But in particular those are also the phone networks that are used by our emergency services and our health workers, and I'm absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency."
 

More News in Brief

  • The partner of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Carrie Symonds, announced on Twitter that she has COVID-19 symptoms, but hasn't been tested: "Being pregnant with COVID-19 is obviously worrying. To other pregnant women, please do read and follow the most up-to-date guidance which I found to be v reassuring." Mr Johnson has been in self-isolation after testing positive.

  • The Guardian reports on a healthcare assistant who resigned from her job "with a heavy heart" after being told not to wear a face mask she'd bought herself, despite a patient coughing in her face. Tracy Brennan had recently returned to work at Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after self isolation due to her daughter's symptoms. The Trust told the paper that it "takes the safety of all our staff extremely seriously and we follow national guidelines".

  • The drugs regulator MHRA is investigating 14 cases of fake or unlicensed COVID-19 self-testing kits, 'miracle cures', 'antiviral misting sprays’, and medicines. In a statement, Lynda Scammell, MHRA enforcement official said: "There is no medicine licensed specifically to treat or prevent COVID-19, therefore any claiming to do so are not authorised and have not undergone regulatory approvals required for sale on the UK market. We cannot guarantee the safety or quality of the product and this poses a risk to your health."

  • Public Health England (PHE) is urging smokers to quit during the lockdown. It cites emerging evidence from China showing smokers with COVID-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe disease. Professor John Newton, PHE director of health improvement, said: "There has never been a more important time to stop smoking. Not only for your own health but to protect those around you. It will also help alleviate the huge pressures on the NHS."

  • People are being asked to share COVID-19 symptoms with the NHS through a new online Coronavirus Status Checker. Information collected will form part of a core national COVID-19 dataset. Prof Keith Willett, strategic incident director, NHS England, said: "We know large volumes of people are visiting NHS 111 online each day, reporting potential coronavirus symptoms and being advised to self-isolate, and it will be hugely valuable for the NHS if we can learn more about these people and their experiences."

  • Belfast City Hospital’s tower block will become Northern Ireland’s first 230 bed Nightingale Hospital. The Eikon Centre at Balmoral Park, Maze, is also being assessed as a second Nightingale facility as part of surge planning and modelling. In a statement, Health Minister Robin Swann said: "All modelling necessarily carries a level of uncertainty. It is therefore prudent to plan for a scenario beyond the reasonable worst case. That is what we are doing."  

  • New 2 metre social distancing at work rules will apply in Wales from Tuesday. The measures will also apply to outdoor spaces and homes where work and repairs are being carried out.

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

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