Young people told not to play down coronavirus risk as 13-year-old succumbs to disease

Younger people have been urged not to discount the risk of coronavirus to them as two teenagers without any underlying health conditions died after contracting the disease.

By Geraldine Scott
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 6:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 8:50 pm

Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, from Brixton, south London, died in hospital in the early hours of Monday, and an unnamed 19-year-old was also one of 367 new deaths in England’s hospitals from Covid-19 announced today – the largest daily increase seen so far.

On Tuesday England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries underlined the need for everyone, not just the elderly or vulnerable, to follow social distancing rules.

Speaking at the daily briefing in Downing Street Dr Harries said: “Although what we know about this disease is that, in general, younger people are not having significant severe illness, it is the case, very sadly… that young people can still be affected.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photo: PA

She said that younger people “tend not to think of death” and so it is “quite easy perhaps to not think of yourself as part of the risk, or part of the affected group”.

“They are really sad reminders that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you should be staying at home and observing all the social distancing measures we have highlighted.”

It comes as it was revealed that 26 of those included in the latest figures died in Yorkshire, but because the daily data only records those who have died in hospital, the true scale of the virus is thought to be more severe.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales shows there were 24 per cent more deaths relating to Covid-19 up to and including March 20, compared to hospital-only data for the same period.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photo : PA

The ONS looked at all deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned as a factor, including hospital deaths and those in the community and care homes - however their figures are released on a longer delay.

A total of 210 deaths in England and Wales for the time period had Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate, compared with 170 coronavirus-related deaths reported by NHS England and Public Health Wales.

Hospital figures are of people who have tested positive for Covid-19, whereas the ONS includes all deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate, even if only suspected

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said the sharp rise in UK deaths from coronavirus was “deeply shocking” but he could not say exactly when the peak would come.

“There’s not a fixed date like Easter when you know that the peak will come, it depends on the actions of all of us,” he said.

“We can delay that peak, we can flatten the curve through our own particular actions.”

He also announced new ventilator devices will be delivered to the NHS next week.

He said: “I can announce that this weekend the first of thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week.

“From there, they will be rapidly distributed to the frontline.”

The Government previously put out a plea for manufacturers to help in supplying the equipment, as hospitals faced a shortage.

And Mr Gove said the UK was also buying ventilators from EU nations.

“We have just over 8,000 ventilators deployed in NHS hospitals now. This number has increased since the epidemic began thanks to the hard work of NHS professionals, but we need more,” he said.

“That’s why we are buying more ventilators from abroad, including from EU nations. It’s also why we are developing new sources of supply at home.”

He also admitted the UK needed to go “further, faster” with testing for the virus.

He said a “critical constraint” on the ability to rapidly increase testing capacity is the availability of the chemical reagents, but that Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock were working with companies worldwide to ensure the UK gets the material needed to increase tests “of all kind”.


Editor’s note: First and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson