The Times - UK (2020-10-14)

(Antfer) #1

the times | Wednesday October 14 2020 2GM 9



A man has lost his hearing in one ear
after falling ill with Covid-19 in Britain,
prompting doctors to warn that the cor-
onavirus may cause sudden permanent
deafness in some patients.
The case, reported in the journal BMJ
Care Reports, involved a 45-year-old
patient with asthma who was admitted
to hospital with symptoms of Covid-19.
He was transferred to intensive care,
where he spent 30 days on a ventilator
and was treated with remdesivir, intra-
venous steroids and a blood transfusion.
He recovered but a week after his
breathing tube was removed and he left
intensive care he noticed ringing in his
left ear, followed by sudden hearing loss.
Doctors stressed that he had not pre-
viously had hearing problems and was
fit and well besides his asthma. After a
course of steroid tablets and injections,
the man’s hearing partially recovered.
The doctors reporting his case, from

Man left deaf in one ear after virus

University College London Hospital
and Royal National Throat Nose and
Ear Hospital, urged people to look out
for hearing damage after any coronavi-
rus infection and to seek urgent medi-
cal assistance, because similar prompt
treatment could help to reverse the
potentially disabling condition.
Sudden hearing loss can follow viral
infections such as flu or herpes, but
only a handful of cases have been
linked to Covid-19 and this is the first in
the UK. The patient tested negative for
other potential causes, including rheu-
matoid arthritis, flu and HIV.
Sudden hearing loss happens to
between five and 160 people per
100,000 every year, according to vari-
ous studies.
The first case of hearing loss men-
tioning Covid-19 alone around the
world was reported in April.
“Despite the considerable literature
on Covid-19 and the various symptoms
associated with the virus, there is a lack

of discussion on the relationship
between Covid-19 and hearing,” the
report’s authors wrote.
“Hearing loss and tinnitus are symp-
toms that have been seen in patients
with both Covid-19 and influenza virus,
but have not been highlighted.”
They said that Sars-Cov-2, the virus
that causes Covid-19, was thought to
lock on to a particular type of cell lining
the lungs, and had been found in similar
cells lining the middle ear.
The virus also generates an
inflammatory response and increases
levels of chemicals linked to hearing
The authors said: “Given the wide-
spread presence of the virus in the pop-
ulation and the significant morbidity of
hearing loss, it is important to investi-
gate this further.
“This is especially true given the need
to promptly identify and treat the
hearing loss and the current difficulty
in accessing medical services.”

Kat Lay Health Correspondent

Care home visitors to be

key workers in new trial

Regular care home visitors could be

given key worker status, entitling

them to weekly testing alongside staff

if a pilot scheme is successful.

A trial aimed at reducing the spread

of infection will see residents

nominate one frequent visitor to get

the test. If it works, the scheme could

be extended across England.

Nominated visitors or registered

carers might be able to hold hands or

hug residents rather than maintaining

a two-metre distance. The experiment

was announced by Helen Whately,

the care minister, as she gave

evidence to a Commons committee.

She failed to give details of when and

where it would take place.

The announcement was welcomed

by Vic Rayner, executive director at

the National Care Forum, which

suggested giving key worker status to

designated carers.

coronavirus in brief

Hospitals in north struggle

Intensive care units in the northwest
of England are running out of beds as
coronavirus cases rise. Jason Cupitt, a
doctor at Blackpool Victoria Hospital,
told ITV that he and other medics
were braced for life on the front lines
“all over again”. “We are very worried
about where this is going to go and
the fact that it is probably going to
carry on for a long time,” he said.

NHS tracing app bug fixed

The NHS Covid-19 app has been
updated to fix an issue in which some
users were sent “ghost notifications”
about possible exposure to the virus.
The alert, which later disappeared,
was a default privacy message from
Apple or Google. The companies
provided Bluetooth for the app, which
has been downloaded 16 million times
across England and Wales.

Mayors in areas with the top tier of
Covid-19 restrictions could be asked to
agree to the return of formal shielding
locally but vulnerable people elsewhere
will simply be asked to take extra care,
the government has said.
There would be no repeat of the
national shielding programme, officials
said, in which 2.2 million people consid-
ered at very high risk from Covid-
were told to isolate completely. Offi-
cials are worried by the harm caused to
mental health by those measures, and
said some people became too scared to
seek support for other conditions.
Patient groups said, however, that
new guidance was not clear enough and
accused the government of forcing
people to choose between health and fi-
nances by failing to include enough
monetary support for those who are
put back into full shielding measures.
Guidance released yesterday by Jen-
ny Harries, the deputy chief medical of-
ficer for England, advises “extremely
clinically vulnerable” people to adopt
more stringent anti-coronavirus meas-
ures than the surrounding population
at each of the three new alert levels,
“while retaining as much normality as
For example, at high alert,
when the general public are told
not to meet other households
indoors, people in the shielded
group will also be encour-
aged to “reduce the num-
ber of different people met
outside, avoid travel except
for essential journeys,
work from home where
possible and reduce the
number of shopping trips
made or go at quieter times of
the day”.
Those who cannot work
from home will be told they
can still go to school and
work at any alert level.
The shielded group in-
cludes people with certain
cancers, conditions including
immune system disorders,
and organ transplant recipi-
ents. The Department of

No plan to repeat

national shielding

for the vulnerable

Kat Lay Health Correspondent Health and Social Care said the group
was already helped by wider protection
measures not in place in March, such as
the rule of six and mandatory masks.
Dr Harries said that the new system
would offer “clarity” on how the ex-
tremely clinically vulnerable “can keep
themselves as safe as possible depend-
ing on the [local] rates of transmission”.
The government said that those in
exceptionally high-risk areas might be
advised to return to “formal shielding”
in the future, with support packages in-
cluding food and medicine deliveries,
and eligibility for statutory sick pay or
employment and support allowance.
However, this will not be automati-
cally triggered by an area going into
very high alert but only “considered as
an additional intervention”, which
would need to be agreed by ministers
with advice from local public health
experts and the chief medical officer or
his deputy.
Gemma Peters, chief executive of
Blood Cancer UK, said it was “com-
pletely unacceptable” to expect people
with blood cancer who could not work
from home to carry on going to work in
very high alert areas. She said: “It is a
ludicrous situation where the govern-
ment guidance is telling people with
blood cancer to stay away from shops
because they’re too dangerous, and
in the same breath that it is fine for
them to spend many hours in
shops if they happen to work in
Statutory sick pay, she said,
was “nowhere near enough
to support a family, and so
even in these areas we
would be likely to see
people with blood
cancer forced to
choose between their
health and finances”.
James Taylor, of the dis-
ability equality charity
Scope, said: “Disabled people
have been routinely forgotten
throughout the pandemic, and
many will now feel they are
being abandoned.”

Jenny Harries outlined the new
guidance for vulnerable people

performances of Songs for

a New World to a

rapturous audience.

The “icebreaker”

production at the London

Palladium is expected to

be followed by a series of

scaled-down productions

at the theatres run by

Nimax in the West End.

The National Theatre also

reopens with Death of
England: Delroy.
Theatres nationwide
are also preparing for a
return to live
performance. The Theatre
Royal in Bath is
launching a season of
plays and the Curve in
Leicester is scheduled to
bring back its acclaimed

productions of Sunset
Boulevard, The Color
Purple and Memoirs of an
Asian Football Casual.
Others will stay closed,
however, with the limits
on audience capacity
imposed by social-
distancing measures
making large-scale
productions unfeasible.

At the Palladium,
however, there was
unalloyed joy. Jonathan
Chamberlain, an
employment lawyer who
attended, tweeted: “£2.
for a bottle of water.
Fifteen quid a
programme. Oh West
End rip-off, how I’ve
missed you.”

Despite seats
being closed
for social
the London
to give the
impression of
being packed
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