'We thought we might be able to contain it': Doctors who treated first UK Covid patients

Video report: ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan visits Castle Hill Hospital in Hull.

In a series of special reports this week, Emily Morgan is visiting hospitals across England to witness first hand the pressure the health service is under.

UK doctors who treated the first hospitalised coronavirus patients recalled their first encounter with the deadly disease - and how they initially thought they might be able to contain the virus.

In their first national broadcast interview, infectious disease consultants Dr Nick Easom and Dr Anda Samson discussed the first time they came face-to-face with three Chinese family members staying in York who had tested positive for Covid-19, back at the end of January 2020.

The trio were admitted to the Castle Hill Hospital in Hull and diagnosed with Covid-19.

At the time Dr Samson believed there was a chance that the infections could be stopped from spreading.

  • 'We thought we might be able to contain this'

Dr Samson said: “I was feeling like I was in a movie. It was strange. There were these three people next door who were sleeping, who were at that point still unaware.”

She added: “We did know that the fact that these patients were here meant that there were probably more patients, and that it might be getting bigger.

“But we still thought we might be able to contain this.”

As he took ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan into the suite where the UK’s first Covid-19 patients were treated, Dr Easom said he was at a party when he received a call to come into work amid the first coronavirus scare.

Emily Morgan was taken inside the hospital room where the first Covid-19 patient in the UK was treated. Credit: ITV News

“I walked in wearing my full PPE and there was a gentleman standing here,” he said.

“I could see immediately that he was going to be OK. It was a huge a relief.”

However nearly a year on, many others in the UK have not been so fortunate.

More than 90,000 people in the UK have died since then, and the pressure on hospitals in Hull is now far greater than during the first wave.

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Between the Castle Hill Hospital and the Hull Royal Infirmary, there are now more than double the number of coronavirus patients now than during the first wave.

The two hospitals are now treating 229 Covid-19 patients, including 16 in intensive care.

By comparison, they were treating just 110 patients during the first wave.

  • 'We're losing so many patients all the time'

The increase in patient numbers is having a profound impact on staff, who are on the verge of being overwhelmed by the scale of the Covid problem.

Yolanda Johnson, a critical care nurse, told ITV News: “I feel very tired and disheartened at the fact that we’re losing so many patients all the time.

“It’s not easy. Not for anybody.”

  • 'I never thought I'd be in this position': Hospitalised Covid patient tells ITV News he took all precautions to keep virus at bay

Despite the hardships faced by frontline NHS staff over the past year, there is now light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a vaccine.

Dr Patrick Lillie was also one of the first consultants to treat the UK’s first hospitalised Covid patients and has worked as a principal researcher for the Oxford vaccine trial.

Even he cannot believe the progress which has been made when it comes to treating the virus.

“Hopefully we will get to the stage where yes, having your coronavirus vaccine is as routine as having your flu vaccine,” Dr Lillie said.

“But we’re not there yet and I think it will be a little bit of time before we get there.

“But I think that is probably the best we can hope for.”

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