First UK patient dies from coronavirus as confirmed cases rise to 115

A patient at a hospital in Berkshire has become the first person in the UK to die from coronavirus, NHS officials have confirmed.

Royal Berkshire Hospital (Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images)
Royal Berkshire Hospital (Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images)

The patient, who died on 5 March at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, was an 'older patient with underlying health conditions' who tested positive for COVID-19 - and is thought to have contracted the virus in the UK.

CMO Professor Chris Whitty said: 'I am very sorry to report a patient in England who tested positive for COVID-19 has sadly died. I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is respected.

'The patient, who was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, was an older patient who had underlying health conditions. We believe they contracted the virus in the UK and contact tracing is already underway.'

Coronavirus

A spokesperson for Royal Berkshire NHS Trust said: 'Sadly, we can confirm that an older patient with underlying health conditions has died. The patient has previously been in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons, but on this occasion was admitted and last night tested positive for coronavirus.

'The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. We will not be commenting further and ask that everybody respects the family’s privacy.'

News of the first UK death from coronavirus comes as the number of confirmed cases rose to 115 - with 105 in England and the other 10 spread across the rest of the UK. A total of 25 new cases were confirmed in England on 5 March - with more than 18,000 tests carried out across the UK.

Figures released by regional NHS authorities show that 25 confirmed cases in England are in the London region, 17 in the south east of England, 17 in the north west, 15 in the south west, 10 in the north east and Yorkshire, nine in the Midlands, eight in the east of England and four yet to be confirmed.

GP practices closed

More than two dozen GP practices have been forced to close down temporarily in recent weeks after contact with suspected coronavirus cases, and a 20,000-patient practice in Devon this week became the first to close for a prolonged period after all its staff were ordered to self-isolate.

Professor Whitty told MPs on the House of Commons health and social care select committee earlier that medical students, FY1 doctors and recently retired doctors could be asked to work in frontline services in the event of a widespread coronavirus outbreak.

The CMO confirmed that measures such as suspension of CQC inspections are under consideration to ease pressure on NHS providers - although the watchdog has said it plans to continue for now.

GPonline reported last month on a warning from a senior BMA figure that the QOF may need to be suspended to free practices from the rush to input achievement data in the run-up to 31 March as pressure from coronavirus rises.

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