UK covid doctor tells how seemingly healthy patient died while on the phone with his wife

A TOP doctor has revealed the terrifying speed covid can kill as he said one healthy-looking patient died just 15 minutes after he last saw him happily chatting in his bed.

Professor Hugh Montgomery, who works at London's Whittington Hospital, says the man passed away just moments after speaking to his wife.

The unidentified man had suffered from a terrifying complication of the virus called “happy hypoxia”, where patients outwardly appear fine despite having dangerously low oxygen levels.

This comes as the government announces a further 981 dead in the UK within 28 days of testing positive – the highest daily figure reported since April 24.

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Professor Montgomery, who treated award-winning author Michael Rosen during his Covid intensive care battle, says this phenomenon is just one frightening outcome of the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4: “A lot of people don’t get symptoms, those who do get symptoms often get better, but when they crumple it’s often the 10-14 day point, when they think they are getting better, and then they get worse.

“We had been told stories from Wuhan that patients breathed hard, this so called “happy-hypoxia”, sitting there on their mobile phones then they suddenly stopped breathing and died.

What is happy hypoxia?

Doctors treating coronavirus patients have said some have displayed signs of the silent happy hypoxia, but what is the condition?

Happy hypoxia: The condition will see the body's oxygen concentration levels drop below 60 per cent in patients infected with the coronavirus.

Patients are not likely to feel uncomfortable at this level, which is why the condition often goes undetected.

As they won't have symptoms, in many cases patients will continue to behave normally before passing out or collasping.

It is dangerous for Covid-19 patients as the body is deprived of oxygen, and the conditon could lead to further complications.

Signs and symptoms:

  • cough
  • wheezing
  • confusion
  • rapid breathing
  • shortess of breath
  • sweating
  • changes of colour in the skin
  • unusally slow/fast heart rate

If you think you're suffering signs of hypoxia you should call NHS 111 where an operator will be able to advise on your symptoms, or in an emergency dial 999.

“I had one unfortunate chap who looked pretty good. He said ‘I’m just going to ring my wife’.

“I popped back 15 minutes later and he was dead with the mobile phone in his hand.”

The professor also spoke about the emotional stress and “nearly impossible” conditions NHS workers are dealing with during the pandemic.

He said: “The pressures were extraordinary, it’s hard one-to-one with a patient as sick as that but with one-to-six it’s nearly impossible.

“But it was the same on the wards. I remember saying I needed to pop around because there were nurses on the other ward that were in a bit of trouble.

“I went round and they were in floods of tears because they had just seen the fifth patient taken out in a casket that morning.

“We are relatively robust, we’ve all chosen to do intensive care for a living, but we had dental receptionists helping who were having to watch people die who they cared for.”

Today, 19 more areas in England moved into Tier 4 to stop the spread of a rapidly-spreading mutant variant of the virus, which saw a record 53,000 infections recorded yesterday.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also revealed thousands of schools in Tier 4 areas will remain closed because of spiralling cases – except for vulnerable kids and children of key workers.

This comes after growing voices in the scientific and medical communities were calling for stricter measures to allow the reopening of schools.

The military has also been called out to support secondary schools and colleges, while overwhelmed hospitals in areas like Essex are urging the government to send the army to help them too.

Another nurse, speaking alongside the professor on BBC Radio 4, said: “(At one point) I was feeling overwhelmed and when I was leaving the unit I said I’m going to accidentally bump into our chief nurse because she has to know what we are going through.

“And so I did, I found her with a colleague of mine, so two senior nurses falling a part in front of her crying.”

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