The warning comes from Carl Heneghan of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University who told BBC Newsnight he believes now a third of all coronavirus infections in the UK are with health care workers. He claimed the number will be even higher as more people in care homes and community hospitals are tested in the weeks to come.
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He said: “It looks like to me in the data that about a third of all the infections are now potentially in health care workers.
“That figure is trending up and up and I suspect as we test more nurses and care home workers, more of the people working in settings like community hospitals potentially, or particularly in hospitals, it is worrying that actually a high proportion of those are infected.
“And they have the potential to keep the infection ongoing.”
It comes as NHS workers continue their battle to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests.
The head of an NHS trust in southern England has asked for the help of a British fashion company as he fears his staff will soon run out of hospital gowns, it has been reported.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, phoned the BBC’s business reporter Simon Browning and asked for the factory phone number of Burberry, which has turned over its production to make PPE for healthcare workers.
As reported on Radio 4, the man said his staff will run out of gowns this weekend and described Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s denial of a PPE shortage across the UK as a “fantasy”.
Burberry is among a list of labels including Barbour, Louis Vuitton and Philip Treacy to have pledged to manufacture equipment crucial to fighting COVID-19.
Browning said such gear was being made efficiently but was not reaching the front line quickly enough, with manufacturers telling him they have been receiving “upsetting” phone calls from NHS staff about to run out of equipment.
It comes as Mr Hancock faces questions from MPs on Friday over the Government’s coronavirus response, a day after lockdown measures were extended for at least another three weeks.
Mr Hancock is expected to be quizzed on PPE and an exit strategy as he appears before a virtual session of the Commons Health Committee.
It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while he recovers from the virus, was “reluctant” to set out an exit plan without the Prime Minister.
Mr Raab said there was “light at the end of the tunnel”, but warned lifting restrictions too soon could risk a second peak of COVID-19.
The Foreign Secretary stated the original three-month timeline to come through the peak of the virus, set down by Mr Johnson, was broadly “still the outline”.
Ministers are discussing telling people to use protective equipment in the workplace and public transport, it was reported.
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