By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) — When the U.K. surpassed 100,000 coronavirus dead this week, it was much more than just a number to Justin Fleming.
Lying in a hospital bed with COVID-19, he knew how easily he could have become one of them, were it not for the medics and other staff who worked to save his life.
“I thought I might not see my partner again, my mum — be a dead friend, be just a stat,” said 47-year-old Fleming, who was rushed to King’s College Hospital in mid-January struggling for breath. His condition improved after two weeks of receiving oxygen on an acute care ward.
The scale of Britain’s coronavirus outbreak can seem overwhelming, with tens of thousands of new infections and more than 1,000 deaths added each day. But on hospitals’ COVID-19 wards, the pandemic feels both epic and intimate, as staff fight the virus one patient at a time, and with no end in sight.
Fleming says he was amazed by the diversity of the “incredible” staff — including recently qualified medics, a nurse newly arrived from the Philippines and staff drafted from dental wards and brain injury teams — who eased his isolation and saved him from joining the roster of the dead.