Coronavirus: 'Epidemic of loneliness' causes bodies of people dying alone left undiscovered for weeks

8 June 2020, 06:11

People have died at home alone of Covid-19 during the pandemic and not been found for up to two weeks
People have died at home alone of Covid-19 during the pandemic and not been found for up to two weeks. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Coronavirus lockdown has led to dozens of people dying at home alone and not being discovered for weeks, as part of what doctors are calling an "epidemic of loneliness."

They have only been discovered after a relative, friend or neighbour raised the alarm and have in many cases gone undetected for so long that their body has started to decompose.

Doctors told the Guardian newspaper several dozen similar cases occurred across London between March and May.

The true number of people who died at home alone is not known, but all cases are reported to local coroners with inquests expected in the coming months.

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The head of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Martin Marshall told the paper these deaths could be linked to the lockdown banning people from visiting each other and pushing people to avoid necessary NHS care.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is also creating an epidemic of loneliness, not just for older people, and sadly there are some people who will fall through the net," he said.

"GPs are working hard to check on their patients who are shielding, and the NHS volunteers have been doing a good job of looking after vulnerable people in their communities. But we are noticing an increase in people dying in the community, often at home and often due to conditions unrelated to Covid-19, such as cardiac arrest.

"If people are choosing not to seek medical attention for non-Covid illnesses for fear of catching the virus, or because they are worried about being a burden on the NHS, then it is incredibly concerning."