UK hospitals report body bag, PPE shortages

London, Apr 11 (IANS) | Publish Date: 4/11/2020 10:06:10 AM IST

Funeral directors and disaster relief charities have stepped in to help National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in the UK as they reported shortages in body bags and personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a media report said on Saturday.

As medics continue to grapple with the ongoing pandemic, the London-based GMB Union claimed hospitals in Surrey, England had asked staff to wrap deceased patients in plastic sheets, the Metro newspaper said in the report.

According to the report, undertakers were now being asked to share their supplies to plug the gap and international aid workers are donating body bags that they never imagined would be used in Britain.

Michael Tiney, head of Southall Funeral Service in West London said that two hospitals in the capital have asked him PPE including disposable aprons but there’s only so much gear they can spare themselves.

“There’s a real shortage of body bags. We try to help out as much as we can but we also need a source of equipment as well,” he told the Metro newspaper.

“Every case we get called to, whether it’s in at home or a nursing home we’re having to treat it as COVID-19, so every body is going out in a body bag. I would rather not risk my staff.”

Tiney said they could only give 20 body bags to one of the hospital who contacted them, which was “as many as I can let them have” in current circumstances.

Meanwhile, Indian-origin Ravi Singh, director of humanitarian charity Khalsa Aid, has approached Hillingdon and St Mary’s Hospitals in London and has donated 130 body bags over the past few weeks.

His organisation, which provides disaster relief and humanitarian support all over the world, stockpiled about 800 of them many years ago.

“Never in a million years did we think we would need them in our own country,” he told the Metro newspaper.

Suggesting the country was “under-prepared” for such a health crisis, he added: “I think more and more people are waking up to the reality now. It’s really really shocking.”

Khalsa Aid are also distributing hand santiser, food and other vital equipment for people in need across Britain.

They were in talks with a supplier in Canada and are aiming to get 7,000 bags made to supply to UK health services and morticians.

The news report comes as the UK has 74,605 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began and 8,974 deaths attributed to the disease.

UK PM ‘up and walking’ as coronavirus recovery continues
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been able to walk for a short distance as his recovery from coronavirus continues in a ward at the St Thomas Hospital here after being discharged from the intensive care unit, a Downing Street spokesman said.
“The Prime Minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery,” the Metro newspaper quoted the spokesman as saying on Friday evening.
“He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received. His thoughts are with those affected by this terrible disease.”
Friday’s develoment comes after Johnson spent three nights in intensive care being treated for “worsened symptoms” of the coronavirus.
He was again said to be in “very good spirits” after being discharged from the ICU, Downing Street had said earlier on Friday.
“The Prime Minister is back on a ward and continuing his recovery, which is at an early stage. He continues to be in very good spirits.”
Also on Friday morning, Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson told BBC Radio 4 that his son needed to “rest-up” and warned that just because the Prime Minister was out of ICU did not mean he was out of danger.
The Prime Minister tested positive for COVID-19 on March 27, and his symptoms worsened 10 days later, requiring him to be hospitalized.
On Monday he was moved to intensive care but was released on Thursday.
Foreign Secretary Domininc Raab has been given deputizing in his absence.
The UK has 74,605 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began and 8,974 deaths attributed to the disease.

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