There have been reports that Hillingdon hospital has closed to emergency ambulances and emergency admissions due to some staff COVID-19 cases and some staff self-isolating.
Prof Richard Tedder, Visiting Professor in Medical Virology, Imperial College London, said:
“The recent description of the closure to emergencies of Hillingdon Hospital due to Covid 19 illness and infection in their staff is not the first time that such a diffusion of the virus within the complex society of a busy hospital has been recognised. Though it is not possible to say whence came the virus in this particular instance it is clear from a number of studies that staff infections can arise from both the community in which they live and from patients in the hospital in which they work. In practice strictly enforced PPE in healthcare staff effectively removes, or at least it markedly mitigates, the risk of infection to healthcare staff from their patients.
“It is only in the last few weeks that it has become mandatory practice for healthcare professionals to wear masks in all areas of the hospital. The pressure under which staff work in the face of seriously ill patients and the burden of infection within the population as a whole is a massive one which requires sympathy and support from colleagues across the whole realm of the hospital complex. In many ways it must be difficult to provide the support and comfort to one’s colleagues at arms length and from behind a mask, and as a result the unwitting introduction from the community at large into a workforce of the density which is represented by a busy hospital is likely to have previously unforeseen consequences but ones which are recognised both in Hillingdon and in other similar hospitals. Staff interaction for mutual support should only be offered within the concept of social distancing at work and this is no criticism at all of the exemplary mutual support with which the medical community, exemplified by the NHS, conducts itself.”
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