Nineteen NHS workers have died after contracting coronavirus, the health secretary has revealed, but says he is not aware of a link to a shortage of PPE.
Speaking to an American News Agency, Matt Hancock said it was a “heartbreaking story” and it affects everyone in the NHS to see their colleagues die.
Mr Hancock said he was not aware of any link between lack of PPE and the deaths, but did say that a full investigation would be carried out to understand how those health workers contracted coronavirus on the front line.
He said: “My heart goes out to their families… the fact that such a high proportion are from people that moved to this country to work for the NHS is really heart-rending… to see people who have literally given their lives for the NHS who were moved here to give that service and I think we should pay tribute to them.”
Talking about personal protective equipment, the health secretary said that although he will not criticise people for wearing more than necessary, health workers should use it “appropriately”, saying it is a “precious resource” and it is a logistical effort to get it to the millions working in health and social care.
Mr Hancock advised health workers at Friday’s daily press briefing to only wear exactly the right amount of PPE, as getting it distributed was a “Herculean effort”.
Responding to Mr Hancock’s suggestion that frontline workers could be wearing too much PPE, Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted: “It is quite frankly insulting to imply front line staff are wasting PPE.
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“There are horrific stories of NHS staff and care workers not having the equipment they need to keep them safe.
“The government must act to ensure supplies are delivered.”
Mr Hancock also reiterated his message that people should spend the Easter weekend indoors, despite warmer weather.
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