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Nurse: NHS staff ‘petrified’ of catching coronavirus and are sending children to relatives

PUBLISHED: 06:21 04 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:20 04 April 2020

A nurse at the NNUH said they wanted to be given a higher level of protective equipment. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A nurse at the NNUH said they wanted to be given a higher level of protective equipment. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Norwich nurse said the families of her NHS colleagues were “petrified” of catching coronavirus and are sending their children to live with relatives to protect them.

Public Health England put out fresh guidance on Thursday about the amount of protection NHS workers need when dealing with coronavirus patients. They said this was in line with both national and international advice.

NHS staff have been told they only need eye protection, respirator masks and overalls when they carry out treatment called aerosol generating procedures.

The rest of the time they are given more basic face masks, gloves and aprons.

But one nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), where 17 patients have now died, said they felt they should be given respirator masks all the time.

Norfolk and Waveney NHS staff are being tested for coronavirus at drive-throughs at Norwich and Beccles community hospitals. Photo: NCH&CNorfolk and Waveney NHS staff are being tested for coronavirus at drive-throughs at Norwich and Beccles community hospitals. Photo: NCH&C

“To say staff have been scared is an understatement,” she said. “Our poor families are petrified.

“We are told we can only wear respirator masks if we are in an aerosol environment. We are still not wearing scrubs which we feel we should be.

“Health professionals are being admitted with Covid and paramedics seem to be the ones that are being affected at the moment.

“Some are sending their children to live with other relatives to protect them.”

It is not clear how many NHS workers have coronavirus but one Norfolk paramedic said almost a third of his colleagues were off sick of self-isolating.

The government is increasing testing of NHS staff, with the first in Norfolk tested on Thursday at drive-throughs at the Norwich Community Hospital and Beccles.

Beth Kimber, head of infection prevention, said: “We want to get as many NHS staff across Norfolk and Waveney back to work as soon as possible, by testing those staff without symptoms who are self-isolating at home because other family members do have symptoms.”

“As national supplies increase we expect to see our testing increase rapidly in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, 70 patients are now being treated for coronavirus at the NNUH, with another 64 awaiting test results.

The hospital told staff this week it was expecting a “steep” increase towards Easter, with a peak around mid-April.

The growing numbers mean around half of the hospital’s wards now have cases. Most are being treated on Brundall and Gunton wards.

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