Medic warns students ‘aren’t invincible’ from coronavirus as it erupts in universities

Medic warns students ‘aren’t invincible’ from coronavirus as it erupts in universities

 

A medic has warned students “who think they’re invincible” that some youngsters with coronavirus have ended up in intensive care.

The medic, who works within Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), said a number of students who have Covid-19 are being treated for the virus in hospital.

He warned students that people of their age in the city are “getting quite ill” and told them not to take the disease lightly.

Coronavirus can affect even those who are young, fit and healthy, the medic, who did not wish to be named, said.

He told the Manchester Evening News: “Coronavirus can affect all ages, it doesn’t discriminate.

“In the vast majority of cases people will recover but a small proportion will get very unwell and we are seeing that with both older and younger people.

“More older people are getting unwell but youngsters are not being spared.

“Some youngsters in their early 20s and even 19-year-olds are getting quite ill with Covid and some are requiring intensive care and higher levels of care.”

The warning comes as Manchester health chiefs revealed more than half of the city’s surging Covid cases are affecting those aged between 17 and 21.

Manchester still has the highest rate in England after several large outbreaks among the student population.

Fallowfield – home to thousands of students – remains the Covid-19 hotspot of England, with 612 confirmed cases in the week ending October 3, according to the latest ONS data.

Hulme and University – where Manchester Metropolitan University’s halls of residence are located – recorded 184 cases during that time.

Earlier this week, Manchester Council said coronavirus is predominantly affecting the city’s student suburbs, where numerous cases have been recorded.

Most of those affected are living in university halls of residence and most are asymptomatic, health chiefs say.

But the problem isn’t just confined to university halls with cases among those living in houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) too.

At the University of Manchester, 1,264 students and 21 staff members tested positive for Covid-19 between September 21 and October 5.

At Manchester Metropolitan University, 13 staff members and 531 students have tested positive for Covid-19 since September 14 – though these figures don’t include a mass testing of 837 students at the Birley and Cambridge halls last week.

The MFT medic – who the MEN is not naming – says it’s important for people to understand that students and young people can become very ill with coronavirus.

“You’re more likely to become ill if you have underlying health conditions but it can affect young, fit people who think they are invincible,” he said.

The medic has advised students to keep washing their hands, social distancing and following the basic guidance.

“Keep yourself healthy but also be aware of your mental health,” he said.

“Keep in touch with your loved ones. Take Covid seriously but don’t let it dominate your life.

“We are not blaming you but we want you to know you are not invincible.

“We know how difficult this year has been for you and how difficult this period is. I think it must be very hard.

“If you’re in a foreign city with Covid and suddenly you become very unwell without your family near and you find yourself in ICU, it’s scary.”

The vast majority of people who are admitted to hospital with Covid-19 require oxygen, steroids and antibiotics.

But those who are sent to intensive care units (ICU) may also require intubation and antivirals.

Patients currently presenting at hospital with coronavirus in Greater Manchester and across England are mostly 60 or above with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity.

Those of African and Asian descent also appear to become seriously unwell, as do those who are immunocompromised.

But the medic said he is also aware of one 19-year-old girl who caught the virus from a housemate and became unwell for a couple of weeks but managed at home.

“She then became very unwell very quickly,” he said.

“It can affect anyone, even if you’re young, fit and well and it can affect you badly. Not only short term but it can also cause long term damage to lungs.

“It’s such a new disease, it’s too early to say the long term effects, but it can cause problems with the lungs.

“You do not want to take it lightly.”

The medic says Manchester is on the “upstroke” of a second wave.

He says hospitals and staff are prepared for it, but many are feeling the effects of a hectic year.

“We got slammed quite hard during the first peak because of capacity and not having enough PPE,” he said.

“We certainly feel more prepared now and MFT is really good.

“What is more concerning is the mental effects of having a second wave. Staff are worn out. Then with thoughts of Christmas being cancelled and flu hitting us, people are feeling worn out.”

The staff member said hospitals are now starting to see a lot of admissions linked to mental health as a result of the pandemic.

This includes patients who have taken overdoses, drug users and homeless people – especially as the nights get colder.

During the first peak, surgeons and medics across various disciplines were drafted in to help with Covid patients.

Now they are working within their own specialties again, there is some anxiety that staff will be hit with a “double whammy” as more Covid patients present without the extra resources.

The number of people who have died in Greater Manchester’s hospitals after contracting coronavirus has reached 2,326.

Deaths in the region make up 7.6 per cent of total Covid-19 deaths in England, where 30,280 have died after contracting the virus

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