British Muslim nurse Areema Nasreen becomes UK's youngest health worker to die of coronavirus

British Muslim nurse Areema Nasreen becomes UK's youngest health worker to die of coronavirus
Tributes poured in for Areema Nasreen after she became the youngest health worker to die of Covid-19 in the UK.
4 min read
03 April, 2020
Areema Nasreen died at 36 [Walsall healthcare NHS trust/PA]

A British Muslim nurse died of coronavirus after contracting the deadly disease whilst caring for infected patients. 

Tributes poured in for Areema Nasreen, 36, after she became the UK's youngest health worker to die from the illness. 

The married mum of three was tested positive for the disease whilst working in Walsall Manor hospital in the West Midlands, where she had worked for 16 years.

Areema developed symptoms of coronavirus on 13 March, including aches, a high temperature and then a cough. She tested positive for the virus last Friday.

Throughout the week, her condition had slightly improved, but she quickly deteriorated and passed away in the early hours on Friday.

Her friend, Rubi Aktar, posted a tribute on Facebook saying: "She was the most loveliest, genuine person you could ever meet, she went above and beyond for everyone she met. 

"I'm so grateful that I had the honour to call her my best friend, she saw me at my best and my worst and accepted my every flaw. I am so broken that words can't explain."

Her family are said to be in shock at the news of her passing.

"The immediate family are devastated. Everyone is in shock this morning. She was always so full of life. She was devoted to her job as a nurse, she absolutely loved it," a relative told Birmigham Live.

"She passed away doing what she loved. I'm really sad for the rest of the family, she was a fantastic person."

Areema had previously said she dreamed of being a nurse since she was a teenager after caring for her grandmother who suffered a stroke.

"I just wanted to be able to look after people, particularly those who are elderly and vulnerable," she said.

"I cry every morning because I am so happy that I have finally realised my dream of becoming a nurse."

"Ill equipped"

Hospital bosses and doctors on Thursday warned of being swamped by a "tsunami" of Covid-19 patients in London, as the UK braces for a peak in cases and the government faced calls to urgently provide specialist kit and tests for frontline health workers.

Scientists, though, have warned that thousands of new ventilators may arrive in the UK too late, while the government said it failed to join a European scheme to boost capacity due to a communications "mix up".

Read also: Britain's BBC to broadcast Muslim prayers as mosques remain closed over coronavirus

The UK initially adopted a light-touch approach to the outbreak, but has since imposed tougher measures, including a three-week lockdown, as confirmed cases and deaths climbed.

The chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents the heads of hospital trusts in the state-run healthcare providers, said there had been an "explosion of demand" in the capital.

Chris Hopson told BBC radio that hospital bosses said there had been "wave after wave after wave" of admissions of seriously ill patients, with a surge in numbers predicted in the coming weeks.

"The word that's often used to me is a sort of continuous tsunami," he added.

Official statistics are thought to represent just a fraction of the real number of infections across the UK, as only those taken to hospital with severe symptoms of Covid-19 are tested.

In a show of appreciation for health staff, the country took part in a collective round of applause at 8pm, with social media videos capturing cheers echoing across the nation's cities, towns and villages.

'Lambs to the slaughter'

Frontline healthcare workers say a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as insufficient testing of staff for Covid-19 is putting them and patients at risk.

"If hospitals are to survive this, we urgently need adequate protective clothing. Otherwise we are lambs to the slaughter," one doctor wrote in The Daily Mail newspaper. 

The government says it has shipped 7.5 million pieces of PPE in the last 24 hours but Hopson said "unprecedented" staff absences of up to 50 percent were exacerbating the crisis in London.

The NHS has access to some 8,000 ventilators and the government has ordered 8,000 more. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said they were expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months.

But Imperial College epidemiology Professor Neil Ferguson, a government scientific advisor, has said most would be needed "in approximately two to three weeks" time as demand peaked.

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