A nurse who went into self-isolation as part of efforts to stop the coronavirus spreading in Britain has criticised the way this method of prevention is being managed.
The unnamed nurse, who was exhibiting some of the symptoms of the strain of coronavirus also known as Covid-19, says she was told to self-isolate by Public Health England (PHE) after coming into direct, sustained contact with a person who was being tested for the virus.
She said she was sent home in a taxi in which she was wearing a medical mask but the driver was not, and told Brighton newspaper The Argus that self-isolation “is not being dealt with effectively”.
The nurse said she had been given little advice about how to try and stop the spread of the virus when she arrived home and had had to rely on grocery and takeaway deliveries which she picked up from her doorstep.
She told the newspaper: “Since I found out, I’ve had to get everyone out of my house to protect them. I had to figure out how I could get them out without risking getting anyone infected.
“It’s scary, because I’ve got a compromised immune system. Some of these fears are over the top, but if I do get coronavirus, it could be fatal.”
She described how her family had “packed and gone” when she got home and that her children were “understandably upset” that they had been forced to leave.
The nurse said she called NHS 111 but then had a 15-hour wait to get advice from PHE on how to get tested.
She added: “This is not being dealt with effectively. I thought there would be a plan in place for something like this, but in my case, I know there wasn’t one.”
— Public Health England (@PHE_uk) February 13, 2020
PHE said it would not comment on individual cases.
The organisation says that “close and sustained contact” means anyone who has been within two metres of someone who has a confirmed clinical case of the virus for 15 minutes.
The advice is that anyone who is asked to go into self-isolation should take simple, common sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible.
This means that the isolated person should stay at home for 14 days and avoid having visitors. There was no problem with picking up food deliveries from the doorstep.