What We Know About The UK’s First COVID-19 Deaths One Year On

When information emerged in regards to the world’s first outbreak of coronavirus within the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, many within the UK wrongly dismissed it as a well being disaster taking place elsewhere and have been reassured by the federal government’s inaction.

The actuality started sinking in with what was then considered Britain’s first Covid-19 death on March 5, 2020: a lady in her 70s on the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. Weeks later, the UK was plunged into its first coronavirus lockdown on March 23.

Since then, it’s emerged that at least five other people had died earlier that month. And extra just lately, information compiled from death certificates has revealed coronavirus deaths that occurred within the UK on January 30, February 2 and February 22, 2020.

Peter Attwood, 84, who died on January 30 final 12 months, is assumed to have been Britain’s first fatal Covid victim. Pneumonia and coronary heart failure have been initially blamed, however a submit mortem report in August confirmed he had died of coronavirus, making him the world’s first sufferer exterior China.

Bereaved households who misplaced family members early on within the pandemic advised HuffPost UK the virus was clearly on UK shores lots sooner than initially thought.

They have criticised the federal government, saying it reveals how completely unprepared they have been, and declare delays can have induced pointless deaths. 

Jamie Brown, a spokesperson for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, stated: “This factors to the full under-estimation of the danger to individuals’s lives.

“There was significant ignorance, denial and arrogance that coronavirus was something happening in China and could not reach or harm us here.”

He added that, as a bunch of islands, the UK ought to have been higher positioned than most nations to close down borders and forestall circumstances arriving from abroad.

“Our government completely ignored the problem which was growing. Its failure to take this crisis seriously right at the start is one of the earliest reasons that led to so many people dying in the UK.”

The timeline of occasions exhibits on December 31, 2019, a respiratory sickness in a cluster of individuals in Wuhan City was reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO). On January 12, 2020, the WHO confirmed a novel coronavirus was the trigger.

The first official UK coronavirus circumstances have been believed to have been two Chinese tourists who were staying in York and handled at hospital in Newcastle on January 31.

On February 28, 2020, a British man was reported as the first UK citizen to die from coronavirus after being contaminated on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The first UK Covid-19 dying was made public on March 5, 2020 – days after Boris Johnson joked about shaking hands with hospital staff within the first Downing Street coronavirus briefing on March 3.

Since then, earlier coronavirus deaths have been recorded, together with Attwood, who was admitted to hospital with a thriller cough and fever on January 7 final 12 months.

Tissue samples examined months later confirmed he had Covid after the coroner was dissatisfied that pneumonia had induced his dying.

The Office for National Statistics advised HuffPost UK delays for registering deaths on certificates occur for quite a few causes. Some can have been referred to a coroner, others can have an unknown reason behind dying, and a few can have been homeless individuals. 

Some imagine there can have been many extra UK coronavirus deaths that occurred sooner than official information present, however might be tough to show as there was no testing.

Catherine Mayer, creator and Women’s Equality Party co-founder, firmly believes her husband was one of many early victims of Covid-19.

Andy Gill, the guitarist with band Gang of Four, toured Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China, with the ultimate date being November 23, 2019, earlier than heading house.

Mayer, his accomplice of 29 years, advised HuffPost UK she remembers him sounding breathless after they spoke on the phone simply earlier than his return. 

But she says he didn’t really feel badly sick and resisted going into hospital. Gill didn’t realise his oxygen ranges have been dropping till they grew to become dangerously low.

He was admitted to intensive care in January 2020, however even then medical doctors felt his prognosis was good.

“They said he was the healthiest person in there and would be out in no time,” she stated. “They recognized a sure kind of pneumonia which was treatable.

But as an alternative of responding to remedy, Gill went downhill. “Doctors have been attempting every part and puzzled by what they have been seeing.

“Then there was that terrible moment when they put Andy on a ventilator and he never recovered.” 

Catherine Mayer with her husband Andy Gill, who she believes was one of the early victims of coronavirus

Catherine Mayer together with her husband Andy Gill, who she believes was one of many early victims of coronavirus

Gill died on February 1, 2020, a month after his sixty fourth birthday. The reason behind dying was recorded as pneumonia and a number of organ failure.

Mayer initially dismissed ideas of coronavirus as Gill hadn’t been to Wuhan.

“At the time, there was a very rigid idea of how coronavirus developed,” she stated. “Andy became ill, appeared to recover, then became worse. We now know this is common for people with Covid.”

As extra particulars emerged about coronavirus, Meyer realised Gill had displayed a number of symptoms of the disease, together with low oxygen ranges, lethargy and dropping his urge for food.

She contacted his specialist asking if there was a risk of it having been coronavirus and found they have been already investigating. “They have been attempting to find tissue samples to check as they couldn’t perceive why Andy had turn into so sick. 

“The specialist said, as they’d learned more about Covid-19, they began thinking there was a real possibility Andy might have been infected by it.”

Unfortunately, the proper tissue samples weren’t discovered to check and Gill was cremated so Mayer accepts she’s going to “never know” for sure. However, she  and medical and scientific specialists imagine it’s doubtless Gill had coronavirus.

She has tracked household and mates in touch with Gill on the time of his sickness and found others received sick – together with the band’s 26-year-old tour supervisor who was hospitalised with “respiratory distress”.

Mayer, who has co-written the ebook Good Grief: Embracing Life at a Time of Death, together with her mom, advised HuffPost UK the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths being surpassed is “particularly painful” for individuals who misplaced family members not even counted in that determine.

“It is a horrific figure and the death toll in the UK has been enormous,” she stated. “Andy would have been a really early coronavirus dying and there might be an terrible lot of people that weren’t recognised within the first wave of this pandemic.

“We are now confronted by the narrative of the government saying they ‘did all they could’ when they manifestly didn’t.”

Andy Gill performing with band Gang of Four

Andy Gill performing with band Gang of Four

Mayer says understanding when coronavirus first hit the UK is essential for studying classes. “It isn’t a question of blame,” she stated. “But the difficulty of when it was first right here is linked to the slowness of response.

“Knowing when the virus first emerged is an integral part of understanding its nature and ability to change and makeshift.”

Mayer added: “China was massively at fault for not notifying individuals in regards to the true extent of coronavirus quick sufficient.

“But this was compounded by having a UK government who just didn’t take it seriously enough at first.”

Arif Niyazi, 60, who lived in Birmingham with spouse Serap, died on March 30 of coronavirus after being admitted to hospital 10 days earlier.

Daughter Ozel Ekrem, 40, who lives in London together with her husband and two daughters, final noticed her father in particular person on March 8 after they all loved a household barbecue.

At that time, she stated, everybody was dwelling life usually as the federal government messaging advised little to fret about.

“Things were terrible in Italy but as the government didn’t seem worried enough to take action, it made the public think there was no need to be concerned,” she stated.

“The government was saying at that stage it was only the elderly who were affected so even when my dad became ill and went to hospital, we thought: ‘He’s only 60, he’ll be OK.’”

Arif Niyazi, 60, who died of coronavirus early on in the pandemic

Arif Niyazi, 60, who died of coronavirus early on within the pandemic

Ekrem says it was truly her mom who grew to become sick first across the center of March 2020 and went to A&E with respiration difficulties involved about her angina. “They told my mum she would either get better or worse and sent her home. They should have tested her for coronavirus.”

Then Niyazi, a British Cypriot who was a restaurateur earlier than working in catering provides, started struggling together with his respiration too, and was admitted to hospital.

He was not despatched to intensive care or placed on a ventilator and Ekrem says the household spoke to him each day by way of video messaging and by no means anticipated his dying.

“I spoke to him through FaceTime that morning and he gave me a thumbs up. I feel robbed of my kind and generous dad and never got the chance to say goodbye.”

Ozel Ekrem with her two daughters

Ozel Ekrem together with her two daughters

Ekrem, who works in public relations, was nonetheless attending massive scale occasions across the time she final noticed her dad. His grandchildren have been nonetheless at college and her mum was nonetheless going to work as a trainer.

“I feel guilty now – what if I took coronavirus to my dad from London when I last saw him?” she stated. “Or what if he received it from his grandchildren going to highschool? Or what if my mum had it when she was sick and the hospital despatched her house with out testing and she or he contaminated her husband?

“We perceive the seriousness of coronavirus now, however when my dad grew to become sick, we hadn’t even gone into lockdown.

“The information in the beginning was very poor and precautions were zero.”

Serap, who was married to Niyazi for 40 years with three kids and 6 grandchildren, advised HuffPost UK that if it had been identified that coronavirus was round earlier within the UK, action could have been taken to prevent such a huge death toll.

Arif Niyazi with wife Serap. The couple were married for 40 years.

Arif Niyazi with spouse Serap. The couple have been married for 40 years.

“I’m absolutely devastated and still cannot believe he has gone,” she stated. “We couldn’t even bury him correctly as a Muslim as he couldn’t have the formal prayers within the mosque.

“A Transit van took him to the funeral as funeral vehicles wouldn’t take Covid sufferers, There have been just a few of us and we have been solely allowed quarter-hour. We couldn’t even throw soil because the digger did that.

“He wasn’t even given the dignity of a proper burial or prayers.”

She added: “None of the 100,000-plus people who have died deserved this. We should have shut down everything earlier.”

Sarah Nicola, 46, of Cumbria, misplaced her mum Helen, 79, to coronavirus on March 25, 2020, two days after she was admitted to hospital. Doctors suspected Covid however solely obtained the optimistic consequence after her dying.

“We couldn’t believe it when they said it was coronavirus as my mum didn’t go anywhere or go out,” she stated. “However, district nurses went round to dress her weeping legs from water retention. We believe she got it from a nurse who didn’t have PPE and later had symptoms and was quarantined.”

Helen Nicola, 79, who died of coronavirus on March 25 2020,

Helen Nicola, 79, who died of coronavirus on March 25 2020,

Nicola says her mum had the underlying health condition of coronary heart failure, however this was managed with treatment and she or he “would still be here if it wasn’t for Covid” as her sickness was manageable.

She believes the federal government was “very much minimising the disease” within the early days and solely telling individuals to search for sure signs together with a dry steady cough.

Lockdown came too late,” she stated. “If the federal government had relayed the seriousness of every part, we might have made positive we didn’t have any district nurses or carers coming into the house and managed ourselves.

“Coronavirus will need to have been round for a very long time earlier than they realised. But the federal government was attempting to play it down.

“Finding out the situation late on will have caused so many needless deaths.”

Experts say coronavirus was widespread within the UK a lot sooner than initially thought with individuals coming back from Christmas holidays overseas and snowboarding holidays reporting basic Covid signs.

A coronavirus monitoring app designed by scientists at King’s College, London, has hinted at sustained neighborhood transmission of Covid-19 within the UK as early as December 2019.

Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe Covid symptom study app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, London, advised HuffPost UK that many individuals reported their signs retrospectively and so they have seen “large numbers reporting classic Covid symptoms between Christmas and New Year and in some cases, even earlier”.

“Finding out about deaths that happened earlier teaches us lessons about how poor our surveillance in the early part of last year was,” he stated.

“It was just not picked up on at all.” 

Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe Covid symptom study app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College,

Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe Covid symptom research app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, London

Spector says one of many points was that originally the federal government solely recognised just a few symptoms of Covid – whereas their app has 24 signs listed, together with lack of odor which the federal government didn’t recognise till May.

“We have had e-mails and anecdotes from a whole bunch and hundreds of individuals saying that they had signs since December.

“There is little question in my thoughts that these individuals had Covid. If there had been testing then, they might have proven as optimistic.

“The commonest source was people going abroad for Christmas and going on skiing holidays.”

Spector advised HuffPost UK that whereas these stories present coronavirus was round in December and even earlier, the UK didn’t discover as a rustic till mid-February.

“It exposes how slow we were to react. We were in denial,” he stated.

“The delay in picking up coronavirus cases changed our attitude to the first lockdown. People thought the numbers weren’t that high and that we had more time.”

Spector added: “We are catching up and have to study from our previous errors and be higher at planning.

“There are many people who became ill and even died of coronavirus early on who were not recognised. It was definitely underestimated.”

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