Coronavirus: ‘Baffling’ observations from the front line

Image: Emma Lynch

(Chris Morris/ BBC) — When you talk to intensive care doctors across the UK, exhausted after weeks of dealing with the ravages of Covid-19, the phrase that emerges time after time is, “We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

They knew a new disease was coming, and they were expecting resources to be stretched by an unknown respiratory infection which had first appeared in China at the end of last year.

And as the number of cases increased, doctors up and down the UK were reading first-hand accounts from colleagues in China, and then in Italy – in scientific journals and on social media – about the intensity of infection.

“It felt in some ways like we were trying to prepare for the D-Day landings,” says Barbara Miles, clinical director of intensive care at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, “with three weeks to get ready and not a great deal of knowledge about what we would be facing”.

But what arrived in the UK as winter turned into spring took even the most experienced ICU specialists by surprise.

Most people infected with the coronavirus have only mild symptoms, or sometimes none at all. But in many thousands of patients who fall critically ill, Covid-19 is a disease of alarming complexity. (…)

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