Coronavirus: NHS doctors warn "huge numbers will die" if people don't stay at home

21 March 2020, 12:55

NHS doctors have warned "huge numbers will die"
NHS doctors have warned "huge numbers will die". Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A respiratory care doctor has warned more people will die if others refuse to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson ordered all pubs and clubs to close their doors as soon as they could, whilst pleading with the British public to remain home.

But that didn't stop a small number of people from taking to the streets for one final night of socialising, despite the risk of contracting Covid-19.

Respiratory consultant in the Ulster Hospital in Co Down, Dr Julia Courtney, took to Twitter to urge the public to stay at home.

She said: "It is hard to actually convey just the enormity of the crisis that is looming for the NHS, and so for everyone, in the next few weeks.

"Huge numbers of people will die and the only thing that will have any impact on this impending catastrophe is slowing the spread of this virus.

"This is the week that the most people who are infected without knowing it will cause the virus to spread.

Follow all the latest news on coronavirus on our Live Blog

"What you do today will affect the intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the hospitals in the next two to three weeks.

"So please, please, please, stay at home if you can."

And Dr Courtney is not the only one to have issued this stark warning.

Jack, an ICU doctor described the situation as "catastrophic" and said in no uncertain terms it will result in the death toll rising.

He told LBC's Tom Swarbrick: "It's beyond me why people can't see what they are creating by just continuing to go out.

"We're treating the people who were infected two weeks ago and we're getting full. People getting infected now who will be treated in two weeks' time, I don't know what's going to happen.

Read more: What do the latest UK coronavirus announcements mean for you?

Read more: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge praise NHS staff tackling coronavirus

"I've been doing this for three weeks and it's getting worse. There are doctors and nurses going down. Healthcare workers will die.

"I've cried. My colleagues have cried. I've been doing this for 25 years and I've never seen anything like this. It's catastrophic.

"When I'm hearing people saying they are going to go to the pub or it's Mother's Day, I'm afraid that is killing people. It's going to kill people."

Currently, 177 people are known to have died from the virus in the UK. That death toll is expected to rise when figures are released later today.

The country has not ben placed on lockdown like other European countries, but the government has instead issued advice for citizens to remain home and only leave for essentials.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants have closed from today, and early this week theatres across the country closed their curtains until the pandemic is over.

The NHS is under huge strain due to the pandemic
The NHS is under huge strain due to the pandemic. Picture: PA

Cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also shut for the foreseeable future. It is not yet know when they will be able to re-open.

The Prime Minister said the measure was necessary to "push down the curve" of the number of deaths, and warned anyone who flouted advice would be "endangering lives".

He added: "I do accept that what we're doing is extraordinary - we're taking away the ancient inalienable right of freeborn people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub.

"And I can understand how people feel about that.

"But I say to people who do go against the advice that we're getting, the very clear advice that we're getting from our medical and scientific experts, you know you're not only putting your own life, the lives of your family, at risk - you're endangering the community.

"And you're making it more difficult for us to get on and protect the NHS and save lives.

"And if you comply, if people comply as I say, then we will not only save lives, thousands of lives, but we'll come out of this thing all the faster."