An exhausted intensive care nurse has revealed the emotional toll of ‘zipping up body bags’ as she begs the British public to stop flouting coronavirus lockdown rules.
Ameera Sheikh, 28, who zipped up the body bag on her fourth Covid-19 patient in just two days at a hard-hit London hospital, said she can’t sleep any more ‘because the nightmares are too much’.
Her comments come after the UK’s Covid-19 death toll passed 80,000, after a further 1,035 deaths were recorded yesterday, increasing fears that the total will surpass 100,000 by the end of the month.
Ameera Sheikh, 28, who zipped up the body bag on her fourth Covid-19 patient in just two days at a hard-hit London hospital, said she can’t sleep any more ‘because the nightmares are too much’
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan declared a ‘major incident’ across the capital in the face of soaring Covid-19 cases. Pictured: Paramedics transfer a patient from an ambulance into the Royal London Hospital on January 8
The ICU nurse revealed she and her colleagues are on their feet for up to 14 hours a day and some medics ‘are so burnt out that they can’t eat’.
Ameera hit out at anti-lockdown protesters and said none of them will ‘ever zip up a body bag in their lives’ whilst she and her colleagues are risking their lives every day to treat patients.
She also said ‘our Government has failed us’ as London’s mayor Sadiq Khan declared a ‘major incident’ across the capital in the face of soaring Covid-19 cases.
Ameera hit out at anti-lockdown protesters and said none of them will ‘ever zip up a body bag in their lives’ whilst she and her colleagues are risking their lives every day to treat patients. Pictured: Police officers arrest anti-lockdown protester outside Houses of Parliament in London on 6 January
Ameera told The Sunday People: ‘Each day is as bad as the next. Some days it’s so intense. You feel so sick inside that you can’t even bring yourself to drink a glass of water.
‘We are on our feet for 13 or 14 hours a day, running around. I don’t sleep any more because the nightmares are too much.’
Ameera, who has worked for the NHS for 12 years, begged the British public to not break the coronavirus lockdown rules in order to help save lives.
She said: ‘Please don’t break the rules. I have worked overseas in less developed countries where they don’t have the resources like we do and what is going on right now reminds me of those experiences.
‘Death was all around us then and death is all around us now.’
The ICU nurse revealed she and her colleagues are on their feet for up to 14 hours a day and some medics ‘are so burnt out that they can’t eat’. Pictured: A nurse works on a patient in the ICU in St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London
In a scathing rebuke of the anti-lockdown groups who are flouting lockdown restrictions, she said: ‘They don’t have any medical qualifications yet feel it’s OK to make unfounded comments.
‘When will they realise what’s going on? Will it be when they lose someone they love?
‘They need to realise the world doesn’t revolve around them. Other people are living in this world too and many have died because people chose not to wear a mask or wanted to hang out with their pals.’
She continued: ‘We can have a day where patients are dying all day long and you are having to quickly wash them and zip up a body bag.
‘None of the people from anti-lockdown groups will ever zip up a body bag in their lives.’
Staff nurses work in the corridor of the Acute Dependency Unit at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south-west London
The nurse has treated a number of patients who they know have broken lockdown rules.
‘As healthcare workers we have to suspend judgement. Some people are very lucky not to have experienced Covid.
Ameera, who is a Unite union representative, added: ‘[Some people] admit to flouting the laws and are apologetic, while others don’t care. They have maybe lost their jobs or feel isolated and therefore don’t trust anything the Government says.
‘Some are very sick but deny they have Covid at all.’
Speaking of the emotional toll of the virus and working in a hard-hit London hospital, Ameera added: ‘I’ve lost friends and colleagues to this virus and we have doctors working in red zones who have come back from retirement or are medically vulnerable.
‘Staff are falling sick and it’s no surprise when, in many areas of the hospital, they are only wearing aprons and simple surgical masks.
‘It’s only the staff on ICU who are wearing full PPE. Everyone is scared of catching the new variant because it’s so much more infectious and many of us are still waiting for our vaccinations.’
A consultant takes a moment to use his phone in the corridor of the Intensive Care Unit at St George’s Hospital in Tooting
Hospitals in London will run out of beds within weeks if the spread of coronavirus is not dramatically reduced, Mr Khan warned as he declared a ‘major incident’ across the city.
The capital’s mayor said Covid-19 cases were ‘out of control’ and implored Londoners to stay at home ‘unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave’ in order to save lives and protect the NHS.
Chris Whitty has also warned hospitals are facing ‘the worst crisis in living memory’ as Covid-19 cases continue to soar – with 46,000 medical workers now off sick.
Britons who don’t take the coronavirus lockdown seriously will cause ‘avoidable deaths’ when critically ill patients are turned away at the hospital door, Professor Chris Whitty warned in a scathing article for the Sunday Times.
Britons not taking the coronavirus lockdown seriously could soon cause ‘avoidable deaths’ when critically ill patients are turned away at the hospital door, Professor Chris Whitty warned in a scathing article for the Sunday Times. Pictured, ambulances outside the Royal London Hospital on January 8
And almost 50,000 hospital workers are currently off sick with Covid-19, according to the chair of the British Medical Association, Chaand Nagpaul, meaning an already stretched workforce is under even more pressure, reported The Guardian.
Prof Whitty blasted coronavirus rulebreakers for being the ‘link in a chain’ that will allow the deadly virus to infect a and kill the elderly and vulnerable.
‘We must stay home except for work, exercise and necessary activities. Every unneccesary interaction you have could be the link in the chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end,’ he wrote.
The country has two weeks before hospitals are likely to be completely overwhelmed, Prof Whitty added, as the nation is plunged into the ‘most dangerous situation’ in living history.
Prof Whitty (pictured) blasted coronavirus rulebreakers for being the ‘link in a chain’ that will allow the deadly virus to infect a and kill the elderly and vulnerable
Speaking about the high-demand in UK hospitals, Ameera said: ‘During and after the first wave, a lot of staff had handed in their resignation, and that’s across many hospitals in the UK.
‘A lot of people were just about coping in the first wave. [But] because of the way that they were treated, because of what they saw, the trauma, and not being supported well enough by management – they left.
‘So now we’re seeing a massive surge, being in the second wave, and it’s worse than the first wave.
‘It’s so stressful, my colleagues aren’t coping very well. Some of them are so burnt out that they can’t eat, they can’t sleep, they can’t bring themselves to come into work. How has our Government failed us, and had all these months to prepare?’
Footage showed the inside of St George’s Hospital as Covid cases soar in Britain. The country has two weeks before hospitals are likely to be completely overwhelmed, Prof Whitty added, as the nation is plunged into the ‘most dangerous situation’ in living history
Ameera also revealed some hospitals in the capital are now so overwhelmed that staff have no option put to place a negative patient with positive cases because there isn’t enough space.
She said: ‘In London we are playing musical beds, moving patients from one hospital to another nearby to create space.
‘We are opening new intensive care units and new Covid wards, but with what staff? A lot of staff handed in their resignations after the first wave. Nurses are looking after three or even four patients each in ICU.
‘There are some hospitals who have the odd negative patient amongst a bay of positive cases because they’ve run out of side rooms.’
In a letter to Boris Johnson he has demanded churches and other places of worship be closed and for face masks to be worn routinely outside of the home, including in supermarket queues and other places outside that may be crowded
In the worst-hit boroughs, it is feared the rate is as high as one in 20 and startling figures also show that hospital admissions rose by a quarter in the first week of January.
More than 7,000 NHS beds across the capital are currently occupied by Covid patients – 35 per cent higher than the busiest day of the pandemic in the spring.
Police blasted a ‘small selfish minority’ ignoring the rules and promised to come down hard on transgressors who are refusing to stop partying despite the highly transmissible pathogen being rife.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: ‘I know Londoners will be shocked that officers are still dealing with a small selfish minority who think the rules don’t apply to them by holding house parties, large warehouse raves or other gatherings. These are creating breeding grounds for the much more transmissible variant.’
Police blasted a ‘small selfish minority’ ignoring the rules and promised to come down hard on transgressors who are refusing to stop partying despite the highly transmissible pathogen being rife. Pictured: A man is arrested by police during an anti-lockdown protest at Parliament Square in London on 6 January
The number of people who tested positive for coronavirus across the country rose by 59,937 yesterday, 3.8 per cent higher than last Saturday’s figure but down 8,000 on the previous day.
Shattered staff at London’s largest hospital St George’s say they are working ‘to the limit’ of their ability, battling low morale, exhausting shift patterns, and the prospect that the worst is still to come.
Medical Director at NHS London, Vin Diwakar, warned medics that even if coronavirus patients grew at the lowest likely rate and hospital capacity is increased – including opening the Nightingale at the ExCel Centre – the NHS would still be short 2,000 general, acute and ICU beds by January 19, the HSJ reports.
Inside St George’s they are seeing seriously ill patients in their twenties because of the new Covid strain – and bosses fear that there will be an exodus of staff when the third lockdown ends at Easter.
Intensive care consultant Mohamed Ahmed said he had seen staff in tears at the end of their shift, while some decided they could no longer come to work
Staff at London’s University College Hospital told the BBC they are having to make choices about which patients to prioritise after a surge in young people left fighting for their life and needing ventilators.
St George’s emergency department consultant Dr Mark Haden said: ‘Everyone’s stress levels are higher than usual. Everyone is working to the limit, to the threshold of what they’re able to. The hospital bed occupancy is very, very high, it has lots of Covid patients as inpatients at the moment.’
The Press Association was given access to the ICU where Ms Cooper said: ‘There is very little joy in our work at the moment. It’s hard to find that joy when you come into work – you’re scared for your colleagues, your families and yourself.’
She said some staff have had to be sent home to take time off due to the unprecedented pressures on the job, while others have battled on despite not being able to see family abroad for nearly a year.