London coronavirus patient took an UBER to A&E

Staff and patients may have been put at risk of infection


It has been reported that the first person diagnosed with coronavirus in London arrived at A&E in an Uber.

University Hospital Lewisham confirmed today that the woman, a Chinese national, had “self-presented” at A&E on Sunday afternoon, rather than calling for an ambulance.

Hospital staff have expressed fear that the patient’s actions may have posed a huge infection risk to themselves and other A&E patients.

There has also been concern for the Uber driver and passengers he may have picked up shortly afterwards.

Two members of hospital staff are now in a precautionary 14-day isolation amid fear that they could have contracted the virus, as they were not wearing the necessary protective equipment when coming into contact with the patient.

Chief Executive of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, Ben Travis, told hospital staff: “We have had a confirmed case of coronavirus from a patient who self-presented at the A&E department of University hospital Lewisham (UHL) last Sunday (9 February).

The test result was confirmed as positive yesterday (Wednesday 12 February) and we have been in touch with all staff who came into contact with the patient.

The patient went to [a specialist unit at] St Thomas’ yesterday evening, so we are now able to update all staff.”

The chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Emergency Care Association, Dave Smith, said: “It’s worrying to hear that the public aren’t following Public Health England advice about phoning NHS 111 to seek advice, and therefore putting other members of the public and NHS staff at risk of contracting coronavirus.”

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Media outlets have reported that the woman did in fact call NHS 111 and the hospital were expecting a patient with suspected coronavirus.

It is however unclear why she arrived by Uber, as under normal protocol, the NHS advice line would have called her an ambulance or advised her to travel in a private vehicle.