One of UK’s longest-suffering coronavirus patients finally goes home after six-month battle


One of Britain’s longest suffering coronavirus patients has finally been released from hospital – after six months.

Mark Gregory was admitted to Weston General Hospital, Somerset, in April after contracting the virus.

The 58-year-old’s condition quickly deteriorated and he was placed in a coma for four weeks.

Mark and his family have warned people to take the virus seriously after it has been revealed he may not fully recover for years.

Their warning comes as it has been revealed intensive care units in hospitals across the country are increasingly busy as wards on the coronavirus frontline fill up.

In the last two weeks alone, the number of people in hospital with coronavirus has shot up by 40 per cent.

There are now 3,665 hospital admissions in the UK – more than there were when lockdown measures kicked in on March 23. 

Mark Gregory was taken home by ambulance on Tuesday after being hospitalised with the virus for six months.

This included a one-month admission to the ICU where his treatment included dialysis and blood transfusions to help boost his immune system, according to the Bristol Post.

After also contracting pneumonia and a bacterial infection, Mr Gregory spent a total of two months in intensive care before beginning his recovery, which included learning to walk again and use his arms.

Upon returning home on Tuesday to banners and balloons, Mark said: ‘It’s great. Six months is a long time.

‘I went to Weston first, from Weston to Bristol Royal Infirmary, from there back to Weston, from Weston to South Community Hospital and then back home.

‘It’s been long. I got a fright. I just thought, ‘carry on Mark, be strong’.

‘That was the main thing.’

Mark, who his family say had no underlying health conditions aside from his weight, has had to learn to walk again after coming out of a coma.

His family said they were told to prepare for the worst shortly after his hospital admission.

A family picture of Mark Gregory with wife Yvonne and their two children Ryan and Stacey

Mark's wife, Yvonne, pictured, said they were told there was a chance he wouldn't make it when he was first admitted to hospital and was put in a coma as he fought the coronavirus

Mark’s wife, Yvonne, pictured, said they were told there was a chance he wouldn’t make it when he was first admitted to hospital and was put in a coma as he fought the coronavirus

Who are the UK’s long suffering Covid-19 patients? 

Derek Draper – the husband of TV presenter Kate Garraway – is widely believed to be the UK’s longest-suffering patient still receiving treatment in hospital.

Former political adviser Draper, 53, was admitted to hospital with COVID-19 on 28 March and has just spent his 184th day in and out of intensive care.

Fatima Bridle, 35, fell ill with coronavirus after returning to the UK from a month-long trip to Mohammedia, Morocco.

Mrs Bridle, a former lab technician, spent nearly the whole of the UK lockdown in Southampton General Hospital fighting the virus.

She was in a coma for 40 days and had to be put on a ventilator when her lungs collapsed, spending 105 days on the life-saving machine.

Anil Patel, 63, tested positive for Covid-19 at the beginning of May after he collapsed at his home in Chadwell Heath.

He was then admitted to King George Hospital in Ilford where he spent four months in intensive care, and two of those under sedation.

Last week, he was finally discharged from hospital, 149 days after being first admitted.

Yvonne Gregory, Mark’s wife, added: ‘The doctor phoned us and said ‘I’m sorry to give you the bad news but Mark’s very sick and there’s a chance he won’t make it’.

‘And then we got another call half-an-hour later to say his organs are shutting down and we won’t resuscitate him if anything goes wrong.

‘We waited the whole day and prayed so hard that he would pull through.’

His daughter Stacey added: ‘To hear that was heartbreaking. So people need to take it seriously – it’s not a joke.

‘I missed him so much. It’s been hard for us as a family but he’s home so we’re so happy.’ 

It could be years before Mark fully recovers from his battle with coronavirus but having returned home, he said he is now looking forward to a cup of tea – or a beer.

‘I don’t wish [coronavirus] on anybody,’ he added.

‘People have got to realise how serious it is.’

Before being hospitalised with the virus, Mark – who installs security gates for a living – had become very unwell with coughing, bad headaches and shivering among the symptoms.

When it got to the point where he was struggling to breath and was unable to finish a sentence, an ambulance was called and he was admitted to the ICU where he was tested for coronavirus. 

The family’s stark warning comes as Britain recorded more than 100 coronavirus deaths for the first time in four months yesterday as officials announced 143 more victims.

Department of Health statistics showed the grim milestone had not been hit since June 17, when 110 lab-confirmed fatalities were added to the tally.

For comparison, 76 deaths were registered last Tuesday as well as 50 on Monday — but counts on Mondays can be affected by a recording lag at weekends.

Back on the Covid frontline: Intensive care units are seen packed with patients struggling to breathe as wards fill up and ‘tired’ doctors worry they face crisis ‘all over again for an indefinite period of time’ 

  • PM said number of Covid cases in UK has ‘quadrupled in the last three weeks’ 
  • In last 2 weeks number of people in hospital with coronavirus increased by 40%
  • Now 3,665 hospital admissions, more than when lockdown started in March 23
  • Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital’s Dr Jason Cupitt said he is ‘tired and worried’

A rare glimpse inside NHS hospitals has revealed intensive care units are increasingly busy as wards on the coronavirus frontline fill up.

Boris Johnson on Monday warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has ‘quadrupled in the last three weeks’ with Monday’s daily case total standing at 13,972 – up 11 per cent on last Monday.

Perhaps even more concerning is that in the last two weeks alone, the number of people in hospital with coronavirus has shot up by 40 per cent.

There are now 3,665 hospital admissions in the UK – more than there were when lockdown measures kicked in on March 23

Critical care consultant at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital Dr Jason Cupitt said he is ‘tired and worried’ as he and all his colleagues brace to re-live their coronavirus frontline roles ‘all over again for an indefinite period of time’.

Dr Cupitt – who looks after eight patients in intensive care – told ITV: ‘We are very worried about where this is going to go and the fact that it’s probably going to carry on for a long time.’ 

He and other medics spoke about the added challenge of not allowing hospital visitors to staff – especially when the patient is moments from death.

Critical care consultant at Blackpool's Victoria Hospital Dr Jason Cupitt said he is 'tired and worried' as he and all his collegues brace to re-live their coronavirus frontline roles 'all over again for an indefinite period of time'

Critical care consultant at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital Dr Jason Cupitt said he is ‘tired and worried’ as he and all his collegues brace to re-live their coronavirus frontline roles ‘all over again for an indefinite period of time’

Dr Cupitt - who looks after eight patients in intensive care (one pictured - said: 'We are very worried about where this is going to go and the fact that it's probably going to carry on for a long time'

Dr Cupitt – who looks after eight patients in intensive care (one pictured – said: ‘We are very worried about where this is going to go and the fact that it’s probably going to carry on for a long time’

Intensive care patient William Murray said both he and his wife were in hospital after catching coronavirus

Intensive care patient William Murray said both he and his wife were in hospital after catching coronavirus 

As the country braces for the coronavirus winter: 

  • The UK has recorded 13,972 new coronavirus cases on Monday, a rise of nearly 11 per cent on last Monday, and another 50 deaths;
  • Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland will produce its own ‘tiered’ lockdown system after taking part in the Cobra meeting on Monday, but said she wanted the UK nations to be aligned ‘as closely as possible’; 
  • Professor Van-Tam warned that more deaths and hospitalisations are already ‘baked in’ due to the way cases have risen as he laid out a grim assessment of the COVID situation, teeing up the PM’s announcements later; 
  • The UK is still well below the grim projection of 50,000 cases a day warned of by Sir Patrick Vallance by this stage. However, 12,872 new infections were reported yesterday – up 9 per cent on last Sunday’s adjusted total;
  • Researchers found Covid-19 can survive for a month on surfaces including banknotes and phone screens; 
  • Town hall bosses will be given powers to deploy volunteers to knock on doors and ask people to self-isolate;
  • Labour leaders in the North demanded more cash handouts from the government to support lockdown and called the new furlough scheme ‘insufficient’; 
  • The BCG vaccine was given to 1,000 people in Exeter University trial to test claims that it helps fight Covid by stimulating the immune system.

Intensive care patient William Murray said both he and his wife are now in hospital after catching coronavirus.

His diagnoses came even though he ‘stayed in for 12 weeks’ to protect himself.

Mr Murray said: ‘Everything was going right, couldn’t do any more than what we did.’

Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. She said she’d ‘been really careful’ and was ‘isolating for months’.

Meanwhile in Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospital – which has seen a surge in admissions amid rising cases in the region – there are just two spare beds in the ICU.

In the week to October 4 there were nearly 40 over-85s admitted to hospital every day with Covid-19, compared to an average of fewer than five under-65s

In the week to October 4 there were nearly 40 over-85s admitted to hospital every day with Covid-19, compared to an average of fewer than five under-65s

NHS England's medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: 'It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest... particularly the North West, where you can see that hospital cases are accelerating the fastest and are at the highest'

NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: ‘It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest… particularly the North West, where you can see that hospital cases are accelerating the fastest and are at the highest’

Hospital cases are currently concentrated in the North of England where daily admissions are higher than the national average, this graph shows. Separate Government data shows that of the 3,451 hospital patients recorded yesterday, 2,132 are in the North West and North East & Yorkshire regions alone (62 per cent)

Hospital cases are currently concentrated in the North of England where daily admissions are higher than the national average, this graph shows. Separate Government data shows that of the 3,451 hospital patients recorded yesterday, 2,132 are in the North West and North East & Yorkshire regions alone (62 per cent)

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust currently has the highest number of coronavirus patients of any hospital in England, data shows

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust currently has the highest number of coronavirus patients of any hospital in England, data shows

Meanwhile in Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospital - which has seen a surge in admissions amid rising cases in the region - there are just two spare beds in the ICU (patient Mark Anderson-Hammersley, pictured)

Meanwhile in Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospital – which has seen a surge in admissions amid rising cases in the region – there are just two spare beds in the ICU (patient Mark Anderson-Hammersley, pictured)

Susan Bostock - who is unable to breathe without a machine - told Sky News : 'I've done everything that I've been told. Social distancing and all the rest of it. But I don't think people should take it lightly'

Susan Bostock – who is unable to breathe without a machine – told Sky News : ‘I’ve done everything that I’ve been told. Social distancing and all the rest of it. But I don’t think people should take it lightly’

Why a flu jab could also protect you against Covid-19: New research suggests the annual vaccine may have a striking benefit – but is there enough to go round? 

By Pat Hagan for the Daily Mail 

The latest research suggests that the flu vaccine could also offer some vital protection against Covid-19.

It comes as a new, large trial is launched to see whether the widely used BCG vaccine against TB could also help protect healthcare workers against coronavirus.

This year’s immunisation plan is the largest ever undertaken. GPs and pharmacies are racing to vaccinate almost 30 million people in England against flu in the next two months to help prevent the health service collapsing under the joint burden of a flu outbreak and Covid-19.

The worry is many more lives will be lost if people catch flu and coronavirus together. A Public Health England study showed that the risk of death doubles if that happens.

This year, the NHS flu vaccine scheme has been extended beyond the usual at-risk groups to include everyone in the 50 to 64 age bracket, anyone shielding from Covid-19 plus the people they live with, and children aged 11 to 12 who are in the first year of secondary school.

But it’s not simply that a flu jab might prevent a double whammy of infection: ground-breaking research suggests flu vaccines may also be able to prime the immune system to attack and destroy invading coronavirus, too, reducing Covid deaths by more than a third.

Two key studies — in Italy and in Brazil, which between them looked at more than 100,000 patients — found that routine flu vaccination cut Covid-19 hospital admissions and the need for intensive care among those infected.

The researchers behind the findings, at Milan University in Italy and Sao Paulo University in Brazil, said the evidence was so compelling that all governments should pursue flu vaccine campaigns as one of the best ways to protect populations against coronavirus.

Susan Bostock – who is unable to breathe without a machine – told Sky News: ‘I’ve done everything that I’ve been told. Social distancing and all the rest of it. But I don’t think people should take it lightly.’

Medical Director Dr Alex Crowe said: ‘We very much are back to where we were earlier in the year and trying to understand what the demand and capacity requirements are with each day and with each week that goes by.

‘I think we’re much more prepared than we were so we understand the needs and the interventions that are required for patients that present with Covid.

‘I think the challenges lie with our operational demands as we move forward in the next days and weeks.’ 

Mr Johnson has unveiled his new Tier Three lockdown measures and announced Liverpool will be the first to go into the ‘very high risk’ category – meaning pubs are shut and households banned from mixing indoors or in gardens.

But Britain’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has warned that the measures do not go far enough and local leaders would need to impose their own restrictions to bring down the infection rate.

Professor Whitty said he was ‘not confident’ the new measures would stem the tide, as the UK racked up another 13,972 Covid cases on Monday.

Liverpool’s case rate per 100,000 population has risen by 14.3 per cent over the past week to 609.

Prof Whitty said: ‘We’re going to have to do more, that’s the whole point of what the Prime Minister has just announced, and probably in some areas significantly more.’

He added: ‘The idea that we can do this without causing harm is an illusion. It is a balancing act between two harms: a harm for society and the economy on the one hand and a harm for health on the other hand.’

Mr Johnson, addressing the nation alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prof Whitty, said the options were to ‘let the virus rip’ or ‘shatter’ the economy.

A vast swathe of the country including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the North East are facing Tier Two curbs which crackdown on socialising between households and a total of 22 million in England are expected to be covered by the top two tiers after Tuesday.

Mr Johnson said that the rising figures in these areas were ‘flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet and we must act now,’ but he ruled out the ‘extreme route’ of a complete national lockdown ‘right now.’

 

Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. She said she'd 'been really careful' and was 'isolating for months'

Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. She said she’d ‘been really careful’ and was ‘isolating for months’

Dr Cupitt (pictured) and other medics spoke about the added challenge of not allowing hospital visitors to staff - especially when the patient is moments from death

Dr Cupitt (pictured) and other medics spoke about the added challenge of not allowing hospital visitors to staff – especially when the patient is moments from death

It has since been revealed that Boris Johnson overruled Sage experts two weeks ago when they pressed for an even tougher ‘circuit-breaker’ before announcing his three-tiered system.

On September 21, the scientific advisory group presented a shortlist of options which included banning all indoor contact between households, closing bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, and hairdressers.

At the top of the list was the recommendation for a two or three week lockdown with draconian measures similar to those imposed earlier in the pandemic.

‘If this were as strict and well-adhered to as the restrictions in late May, this could put the epidemic back by approximately 28 days or more,’ the dossier said.

Boris Johnson on Monday warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has 'quadrupled in the last three weeks' with Monday's daily case total standing at 13,972 - up 11 per cent on last Monday. Pictured: The PM during his Downing Street Press briefing on Monday

Boris Johnson on Monday warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has ‘quadrupled in the last three weeks’ with Monday’s daily case total standing at 13,972 – up 11 per cent on last Monday. Pictured: The PM during his Downing Street Press briefing on Monday

How England breaks down in new COVID tiers 

TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK

Liverpool City Region 

Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton 

TIER TWO – HIGH RISK 

Cheshire 

Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East 

Greater Manchester 

Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, 

Warrington

Derbyshire 

High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North 

Lancashire 

Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley 

West Yorkshire

Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South

Yorkshire

Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield 

North East 

Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland

Tees Valley 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool 

West Midlands

Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall

Leicester

Leicester, Oadby and Wigston 

Nottingham

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City

TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK

Rest of England 

Labour has accused the Government of ignoring the advice but Downing Street insists it has taken ‘robust’ action.

Last night, Sage scientist Professor Calum Semple claimed the new restrictions had come too late and a ‘circuit-breaker’ could be needed within weeks.

Asked if the level of response announced for London is sufficient, the University of Liverpool academic told Radio 4: ‘I’m going to be difficult and say no, I think we’re a little late to react.’

‘The outbreak is a bit like a super-tanker, you put the brakes on but it takes a long time before you see the effect,’ he added. 

Meanwhile, official data has revealed that England’s second wave of coronavirus is extending south of the worst-affected areas in the North of the country and infections are spreading out of young age groups to the at-risk older generations. 

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, presented data showing that hospitals in Liverpool now have the highest levels of coronavirus admissions in the country – and that there are now more patients in hospital in England than at the start of the March lockdown.

Hospital admissions and deaths, the deputy chief medical officer said, are rising now based on a surge in cases that happened weeks ago. The even higher numbers of people being diagnosed in the past week will later lead to even more going into hospital in the coming weeks. 

Nightingale hospitals in the worst affected areas are being put on high readiness to reopen.  

Mr Van-Tam – along with NHS medical director Stephen Powis – told a briefing that temporary Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate could be brought back into use to help with the spike in Covid-19 cases.

Prof Powis said there would also be increased testing of health staff in hotspot areas.

He said: ‘To protect our staff and our patients we will be introducing – with tests provided by the Test and Trace service – regular testing for staff in these high-risk areas, even when they don’t have symptoms.

‘This will help us keep staff and patients in those hospitals as safe as possible.

‘Secondly, we have asked the Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate to prepare for this next phase.

‘They are being asked to mobilise over the next few weeks to be ready to accept patients if necessary.’

It will be for local clinicians to decide whether they are used for Covid patients or to provide extra capacity to maintain services for people without coronavirus.

Prof Van-Tam warned that extra deaths were already ‘baked in’ due to the rise in cases and the lag between infections and people becoming seriously ill. 

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