Coronavirus: Fears of ‘loneliness epidemic’ as dozens of UK patients found dead at home undetected for two weeks

Some people had only been discovered after visits by friends, family, relatives or neighbours

Matt Mathers@MattEm90
Monday 08 June 2020 13:23
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Coronavirus in numbers

Dozens of Covid-19 patients died at home alone and weren’t discovered for up to two weeks, according to a report.

Medics investigating such deaths said that people had only been found after friends, relatives or neighbours had sounded the alarm and alerted authorities.

Some cases had gone under the radar for so long that their bodies had begun to decompose, leading to fears of an “epidemic of loneliness“.

Exactly how many people have died at home alone is not yet known, but all such cases have been referred to local coroners upon discovery, The Guardian reported.

It is understood several dozen such cases occurred in London between March and May, with inquests due to take place in the coming months.

The head of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Martin Marshall told the newspaper these deaths could be linked to the lockdown banning people from visiting each other and pushing people to avoid necessary NHS care.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is also creating an epidemic of loneliness, not just for older people, and sadly there are some people who will fall through the net,” he said.

“GPs are working hard to check on their patients who are shielding, and the NHS volunteers have been doing a good job of looking after vulnerable people in their communities.”

He added: “But we are noticing an increase in people dying in the community, often at home and often due to conditions unrelated to Covid-19, such as cardiac arrest.

“If people are choosing not to seek medical attention for non-Covid illnesses for fear of catching the virus, or because they are worried about being a burden on the NHS, then it is incredibly concerning.”

As of Monday morning, the UK had reported 286,000 Covid-19 cases and recorded over 40,000 fatalities, according to official figures – the second highest death toll behind the US.

On Sunday, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said he wished the UK had gone into lockdown earlier when asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr if the UK could have handled the pandemic better.

Sage member Professor John Edmunds added that the infection rate remains too high to begin further easing of lockdown.

“If we relax, this epidemic will come back really fast,” he said.

Appearing on the Marr Show later, health secretary Matt Hancock denied both charges, insisting that the government had taken “the right decisions at the right time.”

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