CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

First coronavirus death recorded in a Camden hospital since May

London now under 'Tier 2' restrictions in bid to slow the spread

20 October, 2020 — By Tom Foot

The Royal Free in Hampstead

A COVID-19 patient died has died in hospital in one of the first coronavirus deaths in a Camden hospital for several months.

The Royal Free in Hampstead said the death occurred on October 15 after an almost entirely-uninterrupted absence of fatalities in the three main hospitals serving the borough stretching back to May.

The figures come as new restrictions were imposed on the capital in a bid to prevent rising coronavirus levels.

Hospitals NHS Trusts have recorded daily Covid fatalities to authorities since the coronavirus outbreak in March 1. On one of the worst days, April 17, the Royal Free announced 31 of its patients had died within 24 hours. It was the highest daily Covid death figure for any NHS trust in London and almost the largest in the country, second to Birmingham.

After the pressure in hospitals subsided and experts began to better understand how to manage the virus, the numbers of deaths at the Whittington, Royal Free and University College Hospitals have been kept down to almost zero.

May 6 was the first day after the outbreak started that no Covid deaths were reported at any of the three main hospitals serving Camden. At the Whittington, no deaths have been recorded since May 19.

With infections are rising, NHS managers are now trying to find ways of halting the spread of virus through hospital wards.

Figures for so-called “hospital-acquired” infections showed more than a fifth of Covid patients caught the virus on the wards during the first wave. The problem led to outbreaks in emergency units and geriatric wards in hospitals.

UCL Professor Judith Breuer, who is looking at a faster system testing for patients before they enter hospital, said: “Tried and tested procedures to minimise infection spread in hospitals are already in use, including separating Covid-19 infected patients from uninfected patients, extensive cleaning, the use of PPE, and continual hand washing.

“Despite these measures, Covid-19 transmission to patients and staff is still occurring and has sadly proven fatal. So it is essential that we try out new tools to find out why this is happening and to help reduce hospital spread.”

London was moved into a Tier 2 rating of restrictions at the weekend because of rising infections with different households now unable to meet indoors. This includes in homes, pubs and restaurants. Groups of six can still meet outdoors in public space and private gardens.

Camden Council’s last figures show areound 145 new confirmed cases in the week ending October 4, up 72 on the previous week.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned of a “difficult winter ahead”, telling the London Assembly that the decision to tighten the rules in the capital was based on “expert public health and scientific advice” about what is necessary to save lives in the city.

Meanwhile, there have been reports this weekend that the NHS is preparing to introduce a coronavirus vaccine soon after Christmas.

Trials of a vaccine created at Oxford University and being manufactured by AstraZeneca have had promising results. NHS staff including pharmacists, dentists, midwives and paramedics will be trained to administer the vaccine before the end of the year.

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are still a continuous cough, temperature of above 37.5 degrees and a loss of smell or taste.

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