DYING patients should be forced to say deathbed goodbyes to their loved ones over Skype as coronavirus chaos grips Britain, a new report reveals.
Official guidance issued to NHS hospitals also states people should avoid visiting patients in intensive care to stop the spread of the deadly disease.
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Devastated family members are instead encouraged to use "mobile devices and video calling" to speak to dying patients, The Telegraph reports.
The guidance was issued to hospitals across the UK by the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine and the Royal College of Anaesthetists as the death toll yesterday rose to 71.
It states doctors should "restrict access to critical care areas for non-essential staff and any families or friends".
Medics will also have to discuss using video-calling when patients are believed to be dying.
The new guidelines have been defended by doctors, who argue they are in place to protect Brits and healthcare workers tackling the killer bug.
Dr Ron Daniels, founder of the UK Sepsis Trust and an intensive care consultant at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, told the newspaper: "This might be distasteful to some, but in many cases it would be necessary.
"If, for example, you have the 90-year-old wife of an elderly man dying from coronavirus, you don't want to bring her into that environment.
"That would be a risk to her, and potentially to the critical care staff on the ward.
"If, however, you're talking about a healthy 30-year-old grandson, then I think most doctors would take the guidance with a pinch of salt and allow them to say goodbye in person."
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The guidance has also outlined how junior staff should be allowed to take on more advanced roles to stop the NHS buckling under the strain of the disease.
Cases have continued to rocket in the UK – exploding to 1,950 yesterday – leading to fears the NHS will be unable to cope with the boom in coronavirus patients.
NHS England is now suspending non-urgent elective surgery in a bid to free up beds for coronavirus patients.
Operations are expected to be suspended from April 15 for at least three months, NHS executive Sir Simon Stevens said.
He added: “In readiness for the likely influx of more coronavirus patients, we are going to be taking concerted action across the NHS… up to a third of the general and acute beds – perhaps 30,000 of those general and acute beds – for coronavirus patients.”
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The chief also confirmed yesterday the vast majority of visitors would be banned from hospitals in England in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 – but there may be some exceptions.
It comes after the UK's youngest coronavirus victim was last night named as 45-year-old Craig Ruston.
The "amazing" father-of-two, from Kettering, Northants, who had motor neurone disease, succumbed to the killer bug in hospital.
Craig's wife Sally broke news of the death on her husband's Facebook page ‘Me and my MND’.
She said: “My amazing Craig passed away yesterday morning at 6.20am. We are truly heartbroken.
"Last Tuesday he was taken unwell and we have since spent the last 6 days in isolation.
"Craig’s chest infection was confirmed as Covid-19.
"How dare that take Craig who was already facing this (MND), the most vile and evil of diseases.”
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