Coronavirus: United Kingdom doctors wear garbage bags to treat covid-19 patients

Given the continually increasing numbers of affected people, governments and health systems around the world are looking for resources to best attend to the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

In United Kingdom, cases of coronavirus rises to the peak, doctors use garbage bags for protection and hospitals run out of equipment. Given the continually increasing numbers of affected people, governments and health systems around the world are looking for resources to best attend to the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
Dr. Roberts helps his colleagues put trash bags over their heads.
In this context, doctors are working under great pressure, in many cases risking their lives. And many of them are not allowed to speak to the media publicly.
This is also the case in the United Kingdom, where the death toll from the new coronavirus disease exceeded 4,000 this weekend and hospitals are trying to get more beds for the most seriously ill.
Against this background, a doctor agreed to talk how the staff of a hospital in the center of the country, belonging to the public health system (NHS), is dealing with the emergency.
Dr. Roberts *describes the health center where he works as being on the verge of collapse. The Intensive Care Unit is full of patients infected with the coronavirus.
Dr. Robert points out that they cannot guarantee adequate health care for a person sick with coronavirus.
All non-urgent surgeries have been postponed, including those involving cancer patients. Lack of personnel and beds for intensive care, says the doctor.
And to that is added the shortage of antibiotics and mechanical respirators.
But perhaps most serious of the story of Dr. Roberts is that doctors and nurses who care for the sickest patients in shifts of up to 13 hours should use bags for medical waste, aprons, disposable plastic lenses ski protection.
While people are required to have a social distance of at least two meters, doctors examine the sickest about 20 cm from their faces without adequate protection.
And since the length of the state of emergency is unknown, Roberts admits that his team has begun stocking up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for themselves.
The number of medical personnel infected with the coronavirus is so far unknown.
‘It is about being practical. The nurses in the Intensive Care Unit need them now. They are at risk of getting it all the time, but they have been told to wear open face masks, which does not provide adequate protection.’ explains Roberts.
‘That's wrong. That's why we have to put garbage bags on our heads,’ he adds.
The British government has acknowledged that there are shortage problems, but ensures that a team assisted by the armed forces ‘works against the clock’ to meet deliveries for all medical personnel nationwide.
However, Dr. Roberts notes that his hospital has not received any help from the government, and the team that exists merely fuels his concerns.
‘The masks we have now have altered expiration dates. Yesterday I found one with three overlapping labels: one expiration stamp from 2009, one from 2013, and one over 2021.’
The Institute of Public Health in England said that the new expiration stamps are placed after a rigorous review of the equipment. But Roberts is not convinced by that explanation.
According to Dr. Roberts, the masks they use to protect themselves have various expiration dates.
The Department of Health and Social Assistance also noted that it is ‘working closely with industry, the NHS, social care providers and the Army... If staff need to request more PPE, there is a hotline (to order)’
The masks they use to protect themselves have various expiration dates.
The Department of Health and Social Assistance also noted that it is ‘working closely with industry, the NHS, social care providers and the Army... If staff need to request more PPE, there is a hotline (to order)’
And he adds that his protocols on protective equipment are in line with the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) to ‘make sure that all doctors are aware of what they should use.’
Currently, assisted by mechanical ventilators and under the care of doctor Roberts, are three of his colleagues, who tested positive for the new coronavirus.
One of them was a doctor from an intensive care guard who, like him, was handling the emergency without the proper equipment.
The other two affected were medical personnel who were working in other departments of the hospital, so they were not wearing PPE. However, due to their symptoms, they are believed to have contracted the virus at the health center.
And, as with the rest of the patients, they cannot receive visits from family or friends.
‘The most difficult thing at the moment is having to tell families on the phone that we have to stop caring for them, to tell them that their relatives are dying or have died but that they cannot come to see them,’ says Roberts.

Contagion cases in the UK topped 40,000 this week.

‘Normally you can talk to the family which is the side of the patient and say 'we will to do everything possible', but now I can not do it,’ he says.
‘I don't know if we can give him a respirator, I can't guarantee that the nurses are going to take care of him properly, because the best nurses are doing 13-hour shifts. And we're running out of antibiotics,’ he says.
‘We cannot guarantee you all the treatments that I know could help.’
The NHS says it does not know the number of medical personnel who have been hospitalized for the coronavirus.
However, in Spain and Italy - the two European countries that have had the highest number of infected - the numbers of those affected in the sector continue to rise.
In Spain, 9,400 health staff members tested positive as of March 27, and in Italy, as of March 30, 6,414 cases of infected doctors and nurses had been reported.
In the UK, several workers in the industry are known to have died from covid-19, including a nurse from the West Midlands, a health assistant and three doctors in London, one in Leicester and one in Southend.

Inflection point

Given what has happened in Italy and Spain, projections for the United Kingdom indicate that the peak of the pandemic will arrive in two weeks, and that is why medical personnel are preparing, says Roberts.
In In addition to EPI, an intensive care nurse in Spain uses a garbage bag and a plastic protective mask, donated by a local company.

‘If the cases increase as fast as they did in Spain and Italy, then frankly, we are in trouble. All of our areas will soon be full,’ he warns.
‘Our anesthesia machines, designed to run for two to three hours maximum, have been running for four to five days straight. We already have leaks and failures,’ he adds.
The additional intensive care beds, installed in various operating rooms and wards, have almost doubled the hospital's ability to assist critically ill patients, particularly those who cannot breathe on their own and need a ventilator.
However, in expanding intensive care, Roberts says it is the nursing staff that is disproportionately affected.
‘Intensive care nurses are highly trained and typically provide personalized care for critically ill people. Their patients may be asleep, but they are so closely related that they can describe every hair on a patient's head,’ she says.
He added: ‘But now, with these additional beds, nurses are under pressure to care for up to four patients, while providing the same level of care. They really are struggling. They are the most important part of the system.’
The death rate in creased this week, UK coronavirus deaths exceeded 4,000 deaths.
UK coronavirus deaths exceeded 4,000 deaths.

Stay at home

Outside, in the hospital parking lot, in the ambulance area, there is a new temporary building, built for one purpose: to screen all patients for coronavirus symptoms before they are admitted.
It is run by a doctor who, Roberts notes, may be caring for patients. He described the unit as a ‘lie detector’.
‘It's very common for people to lie about their symptoms just to be treated,’ people who should have stayed home, but who go to the emergency room, he says.
‘So now all patients are screened in the parking lot, to make sure that those with covid-19 symptoms go to the right wing of the hospital and don't infect everyone else, like those who entered with a broken arm.’
But for Roberts it is not just about those who enter the emergency room, but everyone.
‘Most of the hospital staff are isolating ourselves when we are not at work, so as not to put others at risk.’

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