PPE and testing: Need of the hour in the UK, says nurse

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A nurse in London has claimed that members of the medical staff have been working without personal protective equipment (PPE) while treating coronavirus patients.

Lizzy (name changed as per request) said many have been working with “plastic aprons, a pair of gloves that needed to change whenever we touched other patients and a surgical mask”.

For the past week, Lizzy has been self-isolating in nursing quarters as she fears she may have been infected with the deadly disease. She said she has not been tested yet.

“As per the protocol, only people who have their own cars are allowed to get tested as people run the risk of spreading it. I don’t have a car so I was not tested,” Lizzy told India Today.

Like her, there are six other of nurses who have self-isolated without being tested.

Lizzy is alone and has no family in London. “It has been difficult because I have to go and buy essentials myself and I fear that I might transmit the virus to someone.

Working on the frontline is not an issue for Lizzy. All she and her nurse friends want is “proper PPE as per WHO guidelines and test for the frontline workers.”

Health and Social Secretary Matt Hancock, who is just out of self-isolation himself, promised 1,00,000 tests a day by the end of April.

The 1,00,000 mark aims to cover both the types of tests specified below deemed useful to fight the Covid-19 virus:

1. Antigen testing: It finds out about whether you have infection or not. Result for this arrive in 24 hours. UK aims to roll this out for NHS frontline staff so that the ones who are not infected can return to work, so the NHS capacity is not hampered.

2. Anti-body test: Finger prick blood test that tells whether you had the virus and are immune now. This is being aimed to be rolled out to the public. If it passes the accuracy test, then 17.5 million of them will be ordered.

To achieve the above, Matt Hancock spelt out five pillar plan:

1. Swab/Antigen tests – ascertaining who has the virus now, to be supported by Public Health England labs.

2. Commercial partners like Amazon and Boots and universities to do more swab testing

3. Introduce antibody blood tests that checks who has the virus and now is immune.

4. Surveillance to ascertain the rate of infection and its spread across the country

5. Developing British diagnostics industry with assistance from pharmaceutical giants

Testing, however, is just one part of the essential measure, the other is PPE which is still in shortage.

Earlier, Matt Hancock said The distribution and delivery of millions of items of PPE including masks will now be carried out by the army who will drive trucks throughout the day and night.

Millions more items have been provided to hospitals, ambulance trust, GP practices, care homes and other health services in the last few days, he added, after complaints emerged from medical staff that they did not have enough kit.

In a letter pleading with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to increase PPE supplies, over 6,000 frontline doctors said they were being asked to put their lives at risk with out-of-date masks, and low stocks of equipment.

It’s been reported that in some places, one of them being Stockport, many schools and charities are chipping in to provide the equipment while some GP surgeries have had to “appeal to its own patients for personal protective equipment.”

Dr Ramneek Mathur, Paediatric Consultant at West Milldlesex Hospital who works at the A&E, was tested positive for coronavirus. He contracted the virus on job and is now self-isolating.

Acknowledging the limited testing and PPE facilities Dr Mathur said: “We should be tested very quickly and get the right PPE so that we can start seeing patients without worrying about our own health”.

According to government figures, “As of 9 am on 3 April 2020, 1,73,784 people have been tested, of which 38,168 were confirmed positive. As of 5 pm on 2 April 2020, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 3,605 have died.”

Lockdown in the UK continues with no end date. Matt Hancock said, “We cannot relax our discipline on social-distancing or people will die.”

IndiaToday.in has plenty of useful resources that can help you better understand the coronavirus pandemic and protect yourself. Read our comprehensive guide (with information on how the virus spreads, precautions and symptoms), watch an expert debunk myths, check out our data analysis of cases in India, and access our dedicated coronavirus page.

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