By Karim El-Bar
LONDON (AA) – The U.K. is “now on an emergency footing,” as a doctor who tested positive for the coronavirus died, the first death of its kind in the country, a government official said on Sunday.
Underlining that putting the country on an emergency footing was “an unprecedented step in peacetime,” Robert Kenrick, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, said: “We are establishing strategic coordination centers across the whole country.”
“Each centre is led by gold commanders. We're bringing together senior members of the emergency services – the police, the fire service, the ambulance service – with local authorities and the NHS to lead communities through this challenging period,” Kenrick added.
Health authorities said on Sunday the death toll in the country from coronavirus reached 1,235 – an increase of 207 deaths in last 24 hours.
Jenrick was speaking alongside Dr Jenny Harris, the deputy chief medical officer for England.
“The PM said he would review [the lockdown] in three weeks. It would be foolish of us to start something one day and assume it's going to have an impact the next,” Harris.
“Those measures have been in place solidly for a week or two. We need a couple of weeks to see that through,” she added.
Harris said the country could have to wait as long as six months, or possibly more, before going back to normal.
– First British doctor to die of COVID-19
NHS England announced on Sunday that Amged El-Hawrani was the first frontline healthcare worker to die after testing positive for coronavirus.
He was an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) consultant, and passed away at Leicester Royal Infirmary on Saturday night.
Prof. Stephen Powis, the national medical director of the National Health Service, said: “My deepest condolences are with Amged’s family at this extremely sad time. The NHS is a family and we all feel deeply the loss of any of our colleagues, as we all continue to unite and work together to tackle the spread of coronavirus, I know that the whole of the NHS and the public we serve will want to extend our sympathies to the El-Hawrani family.”
A spokesman for El-Hawrani’s family said: “Amged reached the very top of his profession and we know he made a difference to thousands of lives during his career. He viewed his role as a doctor as one of life’s most noble pursuits. He was also a leader, who educated many doctors who have subsequently become ENT consultants. We are incredibly proud of the legacy he has left behind and all that he has achieved.”
“Losing Amged is devastating for our family. Life without him is impossible to imagine but together, we will do all we can to honour his memory and live how he would have wanted us to,” the spokesman said.
Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections over 685,600 mark with almost 33,000 deaths. More than 145,700 have recovered from infections.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China in December, the virus has spread to 177 countries and regions.