Elderly in tears and medics’ pleas for coronavirus tests – doctors, teachers & key workers on life on the frontline – The Sun

EXTREME measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic are in full-swing in lockdown Britain — with an army of 250,000 volunteers signing up in a single day to help our beleaguered NHS through the crisis.

Today, as Prince Charles has tested positive for Covid-19, key workers are under more pressure than ever before in their fight to keep the nation from falling into complete chaos.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Coronavirus cases in the capital are doubling every two days pushing London's hospitals to breaking point.

The Government has even been forced to set up a temporary hospital, NHS Nightingale, inside the the ExCeL Centre, which will house 4,000 patients if necessary.

As the number of cases increases each day along with the number of workers in isolation, the UK's key workers are having to fight harder than ever to carry out the country's vital services.

Sun Online will be bringing you their stories from the front line fight against the coronavirus each day this week.

Here are their latest updates as the havoc continues.

The front line doctor: 'Sick NHS colleagues MUST be tested'

Dr Murray Ellender, 46, is a London-based GP and co-founder of eConsult.

Murray says: "Work's a bit all-consuming at the moment. There’s the normal day job, but there’s also everything else that you’ve got to take in like keeping up with all the latest developments.

From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, it’s taking over.

For my hospital colleagues it must be horrible. The other challenges we’re having to cope with are more patients with fewer people as more and more GPs are isolated.

It’s still very hard to get colleagues tested. It would be really helpful if you could easily access testing for colleagues.

We’ve got doctors and nurses who are off with cough or cold symptoms that might have coronavirus. If I knew they had coronavirus, great, we could keep them off.

But if I knew they didn’t have it, we could get them back to work. We’re really crying out for the testing and it’s still unclear as to how to get those tests.

We had some correspondence yesterday looking for doctors to work extra shifts at the new NHS Nightingale Hospital, which to be honest is challenging.

They are talking about the doctors they’ve managed to get out of retirement, or the final-year medical students, or the military personnel going in there.

Getting the existing scant workforce to work there will be so hard."

The childminder: ‘I have fewer kids but more work and stress'

Kirsty Gage, 26, is a childminder from Kettering, Northamptonshire. She lives with partner Lewis and their 21-month-old son, Tommy.

Kirsty says: "When I went from seven kids down to three — the children of key workers — I thought, 'This will be quite easy'. But I feel like I've got more work — and more stress.

I'm constantly sterilising everything. One of the children is at school and, as soon as he's gone, I'm sterilising all the door handles, the chairs, the table that he's been sat at, everything.

Obviously, I've got to protect my family.

Even with the younger children — a toddler and a four-year-old girl — I do a big deep-clean of all the toys we've had out.

I'm also constantly taking the children's temperatures to check they're alright.

I only had the boy yesterday so Monday night's lockdown didn't affect us too much.

But today I've got one of the girls as well — and tomorrow, I'll have both girls, and that's when I'll notice it.

We'll be confined to my living room and garden, instead of play groups, the library and the park.

The four-year-old will be asking where everyone is!

I'm now spending my evenings trying to figure out what the self-employed are entitled to.

I can't get through to my mortgage company, so I think I'm going to have to just cancel my direct debit and wait for them to contact me.

I can't afford it — I'm about £1,000 down a month now."

The carer: 'We're buying an iPad so our tearful ladies can FaceTime their families'

Shannon Summerfield, 20, is a support worker with not-for-profit Dimensions in Cardiff. The organisation offers help to those with learning disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs.

Shannon says: “We had a call with our ladies’ families yesterday. One of them was quite tearful, but she was happy to hear her family.

We’re going to buy an iPad so they can FaceTime their families now so they can have more contact.

Work is quite hard for my mum at the moment, who is a nurse. It’ll be a few months of staff being off, but she’s coping well.

And we’re keeping busy. At the house where I work, we’ve just found loads of paint.

We’ve got a really big wall that’s plain at the moment so we’re going to do a big rainbow on there and all the ladies are going to do their handprints and put some writing on it.

We’ve also gone out and bought old jewellery, and we’re going to be making bracelets. The ladies are just obsessed with jewellery, it’s like their favourite thing in the world.

I thought the ladies would be a bit agitated and wanting to go out, but they’ve been really well actually.

I did quite a long shift yesterday and I’ve got a few long shifts coming up, but I’m doing my best."

The chef: 'I'm now off work indefinitely and my parents are stranded 9,500 miles away in Australia'

Sam Oxley, 31, is a senior sous chef at Italian restaurant Forza Win, in Peckham, South London. 

Sam says: "Yesterday, the restaurant announced publicly that we won’t be reopening as a takeaway — we’re properly shut for the foreseeable future.

It’s a sad day. With everyone self-isolating, and people being forced to stay inside, I know that food delivery has a huge role to play in this current climate, but we’re a small independent business, and after a lot of thought, we felt like it was the best decision we could make for our staff and customers.

It means while I usually work long hours, for the first time in my adult life now I’m off work indefinitely, and I need to figure out how the government scheme to cover my wages works in practice.

I know I’m lucky to have that safety net.

For now, however, I’m more concerned about my parents, who are currently stranded in Melbourne, Australia.

They flew out for a trip of a lifetime before the pandemic was announced, and have had their flights home cancelled, and are now terrified about being stuck out there.

They're dealing with it as best they can and keeping their spirits up for now as I know they don't want to worry anyone, but they obviously feel helpless.

Apparently flights are going for $21,000 each at the moment, with no real guarantee they won’t be cancelled as most countries are shutting their airports and borders.

They’re just desperately trying to return to the UK before it's too late.

For the time being they're able to stay in a holiday apartment but I'm really worried — I just want them to be safely home."

The undertaker: ‘A lot of people aren't attending services'

Raegan Drew, 30, is a funeral director for the Co-op Funeralcare in Edinburgh.

She says: "Thankfully, everyone’s being very understanding and the response that we’re getting from people is that they’d happily go along with the restrictions so long as it means they can come to the funeral.

They don’t want to get to the point where we’re at no attendance.

They’re more than happy to abide by the restrictions and not have limousines so long as they can be there.

Because we haven’t been given strong guidelines from the Government, the Co-op are setting a precedent of 10 people allowed at funeral What the crematoriums locally are saying is ‘immediate family’, but it’s hard to cap that and we need to think of safety first.

There’s a lack of government guidelines for it at the moment.

‘Immediate family’ is quite vague. Every family has different numbers.

You can categorise what immediate family, but that doesn’t help us with numbers and trying to control the numbers in the way of keeping everybody safe with social distancing.

But thankfully a lot of people are taking it upon themselves not to attend the service.

We have our PPE and the Co-op have set up a 24-hour safety support line for their colleagues should they have any issues or questions relating to Covid-19 cases.

The teacher: ‘Elderly residents wept when we brought them food'

Gemma Woodall, 32, works as a primary school teacher in the village of Holme-on-Spalding-Moor in Yorkshire.

Gemma says: “We got the kids to make a giant rainbow for outside the school yesterday.

Parents had told them about people putting them in their windows to spread positivity, so they got really excited.

We were so surprised at how many people were still out in the village… It’s difficult educating children as best you can, yet there’s still people breaking the rules.

Then the other question I’ve been asked is, a lot of my kids are from split parent families, so they’ve asked, ‘Will I be able to visit my dad further down the country?’

They’re really worried, especially as many parents were confused yesterday too.

We have also now had some staff that have had to self-isolate because they’re vulnerable.

Our head is keen for us to work for seven days and then have 14 off, to keep us as safe as possible. We’re lucky we can do that.

Meanwhile, we had absolutely no-one come to pick up lunches yesterday, despite having another 50 delivered, which was really disappointing.

But volunteers delivered them to elderly and vulnerable nearby — they told us that a few of them cried when they got them, it makes it so much better knowing that.

From Monday, the parents will be given £20 Tesco vouchers, which should work better for them.”

The plumber: 'There's so much confusion and speculation'

Peter Booth, 38, from Leicestershire is a self-employed plumber running his family business GV Booth, with help from his 69-year-old dad – who manages the company’s office work.

Peter says: “There was a lot of stuff online yesterday, with people arguing if we should be at work or not.

The guys at home are resenting the ones that are working, saying we’re selfish and could be spreading it.

Yesterday I did a flooded kitchen. The lady had cable tied a tea towel around the pipe to try and stop it, but it was all round the floor when I got there, so I obviously class that as an emergency.

Now I’ve got another couple in their 70s without hot water.

There’s just so much confusion and speculation, everyone’s just waiting for this announcement on the money situation for the self-employed. That will help us a lot.

I know I’ll be staying in apart from absolute emergencies.
Jobs that I am going to, I’m ringing them on the way to confirm they’re not self-isolating and they haven’t got symptoms.

I’m here at my first job today, the guy met me on the drive, we stayed four metres apart, then he left the house open for me and left while I do the work.”

The social worker: ‘I'm helping a trafficked mum with no support'

Katie*, 34, is a social worker, supporting vulnerable young adults between 18-25, many of whom have left the care or prison system, and often have severe mental health issues.

Katie says: "In such uncertain times, I keep stressing to the young people I support that trying to maintain some structure and routine is so important.

Getting up, showered, having your breakfast — I'm trying to encourage some normality.

However, yesterday I found out family nurses and health visitors, who support young parents who are vulnerable, are no longer doing home visits, so a young girl I support who is about to have her baby isn't going to have those visits when she leaves hospital.

I therefore had to work out what we could do, as she has mental health issues and was trafficked here so has no family support.

My main worry if she's isolated is she could be more likely to suffer postnatal depression.

Thankfully we have a process called 'exceptional circumstances' so if she did become really low, we would be able to go and see her but right now we're doing everything we can to ensure she'll be contacted daily, on FaceTime.

She'll be able to keep us on the phone for key moments, like bathing the baby for the first time so someone can guide her and offer words of encouragement."

*Names have been changed to protect identities

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