Tributes paid as more NHS staff members die after contracting coronavirus

Tributes have been paid to more NHS staff who have died during the coronavirus outbreak as it was revealed the official figure of Covid-19 related key worker deaths is likely to be higher.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock led tributes in the daily coronavirus press conference, saying his "admiration" for those who had died while fighting the virus was "incredibly high".

Mr Hancock said he did not have any update on how many NHS staff had died following the 19 he confirmed on Saturday.

But that figure is now thought to have grown to more than 20 as of Sunday after two more deaths were confirmed.

Healthcare support worker Donna Campbell, who worked at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, died at the University Hospital Wales in Cardiff on April 10.

Two Filipino hospital porters are thought to have died on Saturday after contracting coronavirus in Oxford.

The men, named locally as Oscar King Jr and Elbert Rico, were described as “popular and hard-working” members of the team at the city’s John Radcliffe hospital.

Both men were married to members of the nursing team at the hospital, the trust said.

Fundraising pages were set up in the names of both workers following their deaths.

Mr King Jr, believed to have worked at the hospital for 10 years, was described as a “beloved friend, loving husband, and devoted father” to his 10-year-old daughter.

His wife had also been taken to hospital after suffering severe symptoms, according to the GoFundMe page.

A page set up for Mr Rico said he had worked for the hospital since coming to the UK in 2004, adding that he “loved the work that he did”.

Ms Campbell's colleagues from the first floor ward said they were “completely heartbroken that their beautiful, kind-hearted friend and colleague has died”.

“She was without doubt a treasured member of our work family who could light up a room with her infectious laugh and bubbly personality, but at the same time she had the most wonderful ability to comfort and care for people,” they said in a statement.

Patients and their families often commented on how her “warm and genuine nature” made them feel comforted and loved even at the most difficult of times, they said.

A fundraiser for Oscar King Jr has received over £11,500. Credit: Go Fund Me

“She was often found singing and dancing, entertaining patients and staff, making everyone smile,” they said.

“Donna will always have a special place in our hearts and we will all want to send our heartfelt sympathy and love to her family at this very difficult time.”

Steve Ham, chief executive of Velindre University NHS Trust, added: “We are devastated to have lost a member of the Velindre family.

“We will always remember her as a dedicated, hard-working member of our nursing team who was proud to work for the NHS.

“First and foremost, we want to extend our deepest condolences to Donna’s family and friends.”

The news comes days after the death of Filipino nurse Leilani Dayrit, who worked at St Cross Hospital in Rugby.

A GoFundMe page set up in her memory said she had worked for the NHS for 16 years and described her as a “ray of sunshine to those people who were fortunate to meet her”.

A Commons library report published last year found that more than 18,000 Filipinos work in the NHS, third only to the numbers from Britain and India.

The Philippines also provided more nurses and clinical support staff than any other country outside of the UK, the study found.

Lola McEvoy, NHS organiser for the GMB union, said the porters’ deaths was “awful, awful news”.

“Support staff in our NHS are risking their lives to protect us. The sacrifice to our country of those who have lost their lives must never be forgotten,” she added.

“Ministers’ broken promises on PPE have exposed frontline workers to increased risk. Protective equipment is not just a precious resource – it’s an absolute necessity to protect lives.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Staff across health, care and key local services are facing huge risks and pressures. These deaths will heighten anxiety and show why the Government must sort any problems with PPE supplies immediately.”