An NHS doctor has shared a powerful photo which lays bare the devastating reality of treating coronavirus patients and serves as a moving plea for people to self isolate.
Natalie Silvey, an anaesthetic registrar working in London, posted an exhausted selfie on Twitter yesterday evening showing her face covered in red and purple marks.
The bruises were left by the protective mask that she – and thousands of other health workers across the world – must wear for hours at a time to safely treat people suffering from the highly contagious disease.
Dr Silvey shared the image at the end of a nine-hour shift working with critically ill patients, saying it had left her feeling “broken”.
After posting it she was inundated with messages of support, and some fellow NHS staff posted similar photos in solidarity with her efforts.
Revealing that what she witnessed had left her a “crying mess”, the doctor begged people to heed the government’s social distancing advice.
“This is the face of someone who just spent 9 hours in personal protective equipment moving critically ill Covid19 patients around London,” she wrote.
“I feel broken – and we are only at the start. I am begging people, please please do social distancing and self isolation.
“Those red/purple marks across my face are from my mask and are deeper than you think. Today I have seen just what covid19 is doing and now I just want to scream at people to listen to us.
“I volunteered to do this. The consultant anaesthetist I was with volunteered. This is bringing out the best of us. Now can the rest of the country please bring out their best and listen!”
The doctor later added: “I am glad you haven’t seen what I saw today. My colleagues working flat out, nurses barely stopping to take a breath, trying to save the lives of critically unwell patients.”
Her post was met with messages of thanks, with one person saying: “Well done all at the #nhs and thank you so so much for what you are doing.”
Emma Sterba, a critical care nurse in ICU, replied: "I feel your pain this was me last night on shift as a critical nurse when I went on my lunch hour after wearing a mask and all the gear and do you know what I wouldn’t be doing anything else!"
Meanwhile, one professional at Glasgow Royal Infirmary shared a picture of two doctors smiling after long shift.
They tweeted: "A MASSIVE SHOUT OUT to all the Nurses, Medical Staff, Porters, Clerical Staff and Domestics @GRI_ED . "Best team in the world…here’s two of them who thought they would be funny taking selfies with my phone."
The trend of sharing pictures from the frontline has been embraced in other countries, also ravaged by the pandemic.
In Italy – the worst-hit country – a dermatology professional tweeted: "I don't like selfies. Yesterday, however, I took this photo. After 13 hours in Intensive Care, after removing all the protective devices. All this will pass, united in one immense common effort."
Almost 5,000 people have died in Italy after being tested positive for Covid-19.
It comes amid fears that the coronavirus pandemic will force NHS doctors to ration access to ventilators and hospital beds if it is overwhelmed by serious cases.
Northwick Park Hospital in London declared a critical incident on Friday due to a surge in patients with the potentially fatal illness.
Although the critical incident was ‘stood down’ on Friday evening, on the same day, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust was also forced to turn coronavirus patients away.
Boris Johnson has warned that Britain is only “two or three” weeks behind Italy – which is at the heart of Europe’s pandemic – on the spread of Covid-19.
In comments set to appear in the Sunday papers, Johnson also issued a stark warning that the NHS could become as overwhelmed as Italy’s health service unless “heroic” efforts are made.
"Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed," he said.
Dr Silvey, a graduate of Warwick Medical School, had previously set up a one-day course for final-year medical students to help them prepare for hospital work.
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