'It is scary': Inside the 'red zone' intensive care unit where NHS staff and patients are battling coronavirus

The reality of what it is like to treat coronavirus-infected patients on the frontline has been captured by ITV News cameras which witnessed the battle to save lives in the 'red zone' intensive care unit - and underlined the importance for us all to stay at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

ITV News was invited to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital - the first time cameras in the UK have been allowed to film inside an intensive care unit (ICU) treating critically ill coronavirus patients.

On Monday, our cameras followed NHS staff and patients on the ICU on what has become a typical day in these unprecedented times.

The staff on the Covid-19 front line are under almost intolerable pressure - made all the more challenging as patients in their final moments cannot be consoled by their loved ones.

When we filmed on Monday, there were seven critically ill coronavirus patients on the ICU at the Royal Bournemouth - six of them are on ventilators.

Two patients died at the hospital on Sunday.

Inside the intensive care unit at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. Credit: ITV News
Emily Morgan talks to Lisa New who left ICU for the coronavirus recovery ward. Credit: ITV News

Linda New, a Covid-19 patient and a volunteer at the hospital, told ITV News Health Correspondent Emily Morgan how she had feared for her life and that it was the "amazing" staff that helped her through the worst.

"I just wanted to get it through it for my children. Without this lot, I wouldn't have done. They've been so, so good," she said as she was moved to the Covid-19 recovery ward.

She said she never expected to get so ill - something echoed by 62-year-old Alan Hunt who has been on the coronavirus recovery ward for eight days.

"I never expected to be here," he said, describing his illness as "long."

"It's just so easy to catch, but you just can't rid of it once you've got it.

"And it affected both my lungs, so I think they're on the repair, even though I'm getting out of breath doing anything at all," he said.

Alan Hunt hopes to go home on Tuesday. Credit: ITV News

Alan is hoping to go home on Tuesday. He says he feels "lucky".

For the staff, every death is difficult made more so by the how patients die in isolation without family.

Duty Nightshift Manager Ella Gordula becomes visibly upset when she talks about the two patients who died the night before alone, with no visitors.

As well as being desperately sad, the situation is also an anxious one for the doctors and nurses on the coronavirus frontline.

Recently qualified staff nurse Ami Curtis has a respiratory illness - and yet has chosen to treat Covid-19 patients.

"I have asthma so it is scary, but we have a duty to our patients," she told ITV News.

Ami Curtis has asthma but has chosen to be on the coronavirus frontline. Credit: ITV News

"So it's this split between looking out for my own safety, but also I'm a nurse.

"But it is scary, I'll be lying if I say I wasn't scared."

"I'm a nurse, so my patients come first... I choose to be here."

In critical care, oxygen supply is becoming a concern. With so many more patients on ventilators, low levels need to be addressed as staff fear the hospital may run out of oxygen supply - a previously unthinkable situation.

Usually oxygen is not an issue the hospital would be concerned about because normally there is not the number of patients requiring oxygen therapy, one staff member told ITV News.

But there is hope. Linda is proof that this disease can be overcome. Her recovery was rewarded with a guard of honour by staff as she was discharged from the ICU on Monday.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know