A doctor at Northwick Park Hospital urges people to be sensible and considerate during the coronavirus outbreak, to help out overwhelmed staff.

Dr Laith Al-Rubaiy, of St Mark’s and Northwick Park hospitals, says that misconceptions and false reassurances are distorting the severity of Covid-19 and affecting NHS workers.

Although he traditionally works as a consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist, he alongside many other doctors are called to treat the influx of Covid-19 patients coming to the hospital.

He explained: “Right now, we don’t have the capacity to deal with many other things other than Covid-19, so we need to do more so people can avoid unnecessary admission to A&E.”

Dr Al-Rubaiy acknowledges that while there has been a decrease of A&E admissions not regarding Covid-19, there are still patients coming in and stressing the overwhelmed system, which can easily be avoided.

He specifically appealed that people should avoid getting intoxicated and take better care to not injure themselves when handling DIY tasks, so that NHS staff can prioritise treating Covid-19 patients.

He said: “Even right now, there are not enough beds, we’re trying to prioritise patients with Covid-19 and the goal is to discharge as many people as we can safely.

“I want the members of public to know that if we can be careful, we can prevent the spread.”

Northwick Park Hospital declared a “critical incident” last week due to the rising numbers of coronavirus patients, which lasted for 24 hours before it was stood down.

In a message to staff, the hospital said it has been contacting neighbouring hospitals about transferring patients requiring critical care to other sites, as they did not have enough space.

Another NHS worker at the hospital recently told the Harrow Times that there was a sense of “paranoia” at the hospital as there were struggles with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in stock.

Dr Al-Rubaiy agreed and described workers to be feeling a “mixture of anxiety and eagerness to help”.

He said: “I’m very paranoid, I don’t want to get infected and I don’t want to spread an infection to anyone.”

Despite his measures of washing his hands, showering extensively and wearing a mask at home – he says he is still at risk.

Staff at Northwick Park Hospital are also not being tested for Covid-19, instead they are told to go home, self-isolate and contact 111 if they show symptoms.

Dr Al-Rubaiy said: “The situation is not ideal. We have a lot of colleagues self-isolating for minor symptoms and it has a huge impact on us.

“One colleague had to pay hundreds for private testing and came back positive.

“It should be for everyone for peace of mind and reassurance.”

Considering the stress put to NHS workers during the outbreak, the doctor wishes that people acknowledge the severity of the issue.

He explained: “The message we need out there is young people can have it, I’ve treated young people from the age of 20 with Covid-19.

“The most common misconception is young people won’t get it, and if they do then it’s mild, but no one is safe with the virus, it can affect anyone.

“The numbers (of confirmed cases) are going up massively, same with the death rate.

“It’s too early to say anything in what we are doing now is working.”

And the doctor warns that despite the most common symptoms being a continuous dry cough or high fever, these symptoms may not show with some confirmed cases.

He said: “We have seen people come with a high pulse and we didn’t know what was going on once we tested it was found to be Covid-19, so it’s not always respiratory, it can be diarrhoea or vomiting - everyone who can should self-isolate just in case.”

He recommends for people that are tempted to drink alcohol during irresponsibly during this period, to pick up hobbies like reading books or engaging in online activities, in a measure to assure that A&E departments are left mainly for Covid-19 patients.