Hospital declares critical incident and urges people to stay away as UK records biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths

A hospital declared a critical incident and told people not to attend after a technical issue with oxygen equipment.

Watford General hospital asked people to stay away following the issue which they said did not pose any risk to patients.

A doctor at the hospital told ITV News they were "concerned" about the situation and that a "large number of staff are sick" after "being exposed to Covid-19 patients without adequate personal protection equipment (PPE)".

Teams were overworked and morale low, the doctor alleged, who said nurses had taken to hiding PPE and only allowing it to be used when dealing with confirmed cases.

In response, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust told ITV News: "Like many of hospitals, many of our doctors and nurses are absent and this adds pressure. These are testing times and it is expected that morale may suffer."

The trust is responsible for Watford General as well as Hemel Hampstead and St Albans City hospitals.

  • ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia on the situation at Watford General where one doctor said "morale was low"

Earlier on Saturday the hospital tweeted telling people not to come to A&E until further notice even in an emergency and advised people instead to visit other nearby hospitals or seek advice through the 111 helpline.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust said in a statement on Saturday: "A small number of patients are being transferred to other hospitals in the area, with each patient being fully assessed in line with existing safety guidelines before they are moved."

As of 5pm Thursday, 29 people had died at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust hospitals after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Saturday saw the UK's darkest day since the coronavirus outbreak began. Among the record 708 victims to have died after testing positive for coronavirus was a five-year-old child.

The child, who had underlying health issues, is the youngest victim of coronavirus, NHS England said.

The UK death toll now stands at 4,313.

Many staff members were reportedly off sick after treating coronavirus patients. Credit: ITV News

The Department of Health said a total of 183,190 people had been tested as of 9am on Saturday, of which 41,903 tested positive.

Among those who had died after suffering from Covid-19 symptoms were five bus drivers and two staff members from Pentonville Prison.

During the Government's daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday, Michael Gove paid tribute to the five-year-old victim and also confirmed seven medical professionals had died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Mr Gove said: “Our thoughts today are also with the family of the five-year-old child with underlying health conditions who’s tragically died.”

Both Mr Gove and chief medical Professor Steve Powis reiterated the Government's instructions ordering people to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Saturday saw the biggest daily rise in reported coronavirus deaths. Credit: PA

When asked about people being tempted to break the social distancing rules during the warm weekend weather, Mr Gove said: “When we look at the death rate, the number of increasing fatalities, when we consider the pressure on our NHS, everyone has to ask themselves the question: ‘What am I doing to relieve pressure on the NHS, how am I helping in this shared national effort?’.

“I know that lockdown is challenging, I know it’s very difficult, particularly for families with children.

“But people must at every stage respect these guidelines because that is the only way of making sure we restrict the spread of the disease.”

Lambeth Council announced that Brockwell Park in south London will be closed on Sunday after people flouted the Government’s social distancing advice while Sussex Police said two people will be up in court after breaching the Coronavirus Act 2020 by having a barbecue on the beach at Brighton.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know