Fears 400k Brits could die from coronavirus as pregnant GP admits ‘I’m scared’

NHS workers have laid bare their fears about coronavirus as they warn the country is not prepared to handle a major outbreak, according to a shock new survery.

One pregnant GP has admitted she is "scared" as scientists warn 400,000 people could die in the UK alone.

A study carried out by Channel 4 News shows as a staggering 96% of NHS workers don't think the health service is ready to deal with a major outbreak.

And 93% believe there isn’t enough protection for NHS staff on the frontline.

So far there have been nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

The survey of more than 500 frontline health workers found 88% believe there aren't adequate facilities such as isolation areas to cope with large numbers of suspected coronavirus cases and 81% felt there has not been enough preparation for an outbreak.

One worker told Channel 4: "I am a pregnant GP. I am genuinely scared."

Another told how "Patients get unreliable, inconsistent and potentially dangerous advice from 111. High risk patients are still being told to see their GP."

Another NHS worker added: "We are being drowned in demand…a patient rang… because they had a cough…and 'lived next door to a Chinese takeaway'.

Shockingly, there has been "No briefing on masks. I’ve had to buy my own from Screwfix" according to one NHS worker while another told Channel 4 they had "no where to put patients in primary care other than shutting them in the toilet."

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Tonight Channel 4 is dedicating a special news programme to the coronavirus scare, focusing on Brighton in Sussex as the 'epicentre' of the crisis.

Scientist Professor Neil Ferguson, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, told the show: "I would much prefer to be accused of overreacting than under reacting.

"This virus is the one which probably concerns me the most out of everything I've worked on."

The Professor is asked about estimates made by his colleagues that 60% of the UK population could contract coronavirus.

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Presenter Matt Frei asks: "Do you think that the infection rate of 60% of the population [if unchecked] that has been suggested by some of your colleagues, is realistic for Britain?"

Prof Ferguson said: "Potentially. Given we know a lot about how these viruses are spread we have lots of data from past epidemics.

"Given how transmissible this virus appears to be and that fact that at least all adults can be infected, we have much less data in children, then 60 percent is a reasonable figure.

"Within the first 12 months or so. What we don’t know at the moment is if everybody infected. What proportion might die and what are the risk groups? Our best estimates at the moment is that maybe 1 percent of people who get infected might die."


A mortality rate of 1 per cent would mean roughly 400,000 people in the UK could die.

Prof Ferguson said this was "potentially" true but he "would emphasise that at the moment putting numbers like 400,000 isn’t necessarily helpful as we have so little information."

But he goes on to agree that this is not an "absurd number, no".

The show, due to air at 7.30pm tonight, also features Emeritus Medical Director or Public Health England, Paul Cosford, who was asked if he was alarmed by the concerns of the fearful NHS workers.

"Of course," he said. "Those numbers are not where we will need to be.

"What I'm saying is that we are in very early stages of dealing with novol coronovirus. We are making sure there is advice going out to hospitals across the country.

"The chief medical officer, the medical director of NHS England and others, writing regular basis with updates to guidance.

"There are extensive plans across both the NHS, wider government systems, Public health England, to deal with whatever the eventuality may be.

"Now that eventuality in the worst case scenario is not without its challenges and those challenges may be significant for the NHS and they will be prepared and thinking about how to deal with those.

"I don’t think we can say there won't be any difficulties if we do get into that scenario."

  • Coronavirus: Is Britain Ready? is on Channel 4 tonight at 7.30pm

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