Preston doctor warns about the heart-breaking impact of ignoring social distancing in viral Youtube videos

A Preston doctor's Youtube videos warning people about the dangers of ignoring social distancing advice have gone viral.

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 5:24 pm
Dr Bilal Patel, a consultant cardiologist at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Dr Bilal Patel has made two videos that have been viewed as far as South Africa, India, the Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In his first film, the 46-year-old says that hospitals could become overwhelmed, if the UK fails to slow down the spread of the coronavirus - meaning health professionals might have to decide which patients will and will not be treated.

Dr Bilal, a consultant cardiologist at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, also says that for every person ignoring lock-down rules, 50,000 people could end up being infected within two months due to a ripple-effect.

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The dad-of-four said: "There is a reason why on the front line we are extremely concerned. This is the biggest crisis facing the NHS since it was created."

Some 20% of sufferers will be admitted to hospital, and 5% will be so unwell that they will need intensive care, according to the cardiologist.

"Empty beds will fill up quickly. If you let the virus spread and you don't slow it down, you soon find you run out of intensive care beds," he said.

"A person having a heart attack and a young person in a car accident might not be able to get treatment if there aren't any beds.

"On the front line, we're expecting it, as we've seen what's happened to China, and we're following the same trajectory as Italy.

"We'll hit that red line - lack of IC beds - and people will die. There is no doubt about this, we've seen it happen in all parts of the world."

Italian doctors are having to turn down people aged over 65 for treatment, in favour of younger patients, according to Dr Bilal.

"We don't want to find ourselves in that situation a few weeks down the line," he said.

"We have to do what we can as a community to slow this spread down because otherwise, we are facing a calamity. There's a huge lack of ventilators.

"We have to do everything possible to allow the health system to cope, otherwise it's going to collapse."

He says UK medics expect that hospital admissions will reach their peak in two to three weeks.

That is why social distancing is crucial, he adds.

Some 30% of people with coronavirus will not show any symptoms - but they can still pass the infection on, according to his video.

Each person affects an average of 2.5 people in five days. And as each newly infected person passes the virus on to another 2.5 people and so on, around 406 infections can occur in a month.

This equates to 50,000 in two months.

But if you reduce people's exposure to each other by 50%, then each individual will instead infect 1.25 people in five days - and 15 people in 30 days.

"That's why we have to act like everyone has it," said Dr Bilal.

"It can spread like wildfire."

He added: "There are lots of vulnerable people out there. We need to look out for them.

"If anybody at home is elderly, do your best to protect them and keep them away from children, who could bring something into the house after going out.

"Be aggressive in how you follow the lock-down guidelines,

"Myself and my NHS colleagues, we say we work for you; you stay at home for us. Don't be a spreader."

The NHS is still treating strokes and heart attacks as emergencies.

Dial 999, if you experience chest pain, aches and heaviness for more than 10 minutes, or if you develop limb weakness or difficulty speaking.

Around 30% fewer people are going to hospital for treatment for heart attacks since the pandemic started and this is a national trend, says Dr Bilal.

As he added: "We are still here to treat your emergencies."