Three United Kingdom nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.
The hospital previously declared an emergency situation after all of its critical care beds were filled with patients. More than 50% of staff working in one ward have now tested positive for Coronavirus, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The nurses told the publication in March they had to ‘use their initiative’ by wearing the bin liners, as they had ‘no other choice’ due to the lack of PPE available. One nurse told how they desperately needed proper equipment, and were already having to treat their colleagues after they had caught the virus from patients.
She continued: “There are so many younger people here on ventilation, many with asthma, or diabetes. They can’t stop coughing, they just cough and cough and cough and they can’t help it, but there’s little we can do apart from try to help them breathe. ‘Sometimes the body just gives up, and they die. We can’t save them. The worst part is that we can’t allow their relatives in to say goodbye.”
She added that the nurses had been putting on ‘brave smiles’, but said inside they were all ‘terrified’. Many of them had not seen their families, out of fear they would spread the virus to them.
In another development, researchers who mapped some of the original spread of Coronavirus in humans have discovered there are variants of the virus throughout the world. They reconstructed the early evolutionary paths of Covid-19 as infection spread from Wuhan, China, out to Europe and North America.
They found three distinct, but closely related, variants of Covid-19, which they called A, B and C.
Variant A, most closely related to the virus found in both bats and pangolins, is described as the root of the outbreak by researchers. Type B is derived from A, separated by two mutations, then C is in turn a ‘daughter’ of B, the study suggests.
The researchers say the C variant is the major European type, found in early patients from France, Italy, Sweden and England. The analysis also suggests one of the earliest introductions of the virus into Italy came via the first documented German infection on January 27, and that another early Italian infection route was related to a ‘Singapore cluster’. It is absent from the study’s Chinese mainland sample but seen in Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.