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Home / World News / Covid-19 triggers collateral damage fears, 18,000 UK cancer patients may die

Covid-19 triggers collateral damage fears, 18,000 UK cancer patients may die

According to campaign group Macmillan Cancer Support, nearly 18,000 people with cancer in England could die as the pandemic has forced hospitals to suspend treatment and deterred patients from seeking NHS care.

world Updated: Apr 29, 2020 19:43 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Soldiers provide instructions to people arriving at a Covid-19 testing centre in a Park and Ride facility in Salisbury, England, as the lockdown to help curb the spread of coronavirus continues.
Soldiers provide instructions to people arriving at a Covid-19 testing centre in a Park and Ride facility in Salisbury, England, as the lockdown to help curb the spread of coronavirus continues.(AP)

Focussing on population infected by coronavirus and suspending treatment of cancer patients in the UK could lead to death of over 18,000 infected by the malignancy, experts forecast, as the country moved to widen groups eligible for testing of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The move by UK is being seen as part of efforts to reach a target of 1 lakh tests per day, in order to tackle the pandemic that has claimed 21,678 lives so far and infected 161,145 people nationwide.

Hospitals have seen a major drop in non-coronavirus patients, prompting health officials to appeal to the people to continue to access the National Health Service as they did before the pandemic struck. Hospitals have restructured facilities to cater to Covid-19 and other patients.

According to campaign group Macmillan Cancer Support, nearly 18,000 people with cancer in England could die as the pandemic has forced hospitals to suspend treatment and deterred patients from seeking NHS care. Cancer should not be ‘the forgotten C’, it said.

Research by the group shows that an extra 6,270 people in England recently diagnosed with cancer could die from it over the next 12 months as a direct result of the disruption caused by coronavirus, and the additional toll taking into account all those living with cancer could be 17,915.

Alvia Lai, of the University College London who led the research, said: “Our findings demonstrate the serious potential for unintended consequences of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which may negatively impact on patients with cancer and other underlying health conditions.”

The UK-wide death toll from coronavirus was set to increase substantially when the government begins releasing figures across all locations, not only from hospitals, from Wednesday. Thousands more have reported died in care homes, hospices and private homes.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced that groups eligible for coronavirus testing will be extended to those over 65 years old and those who work outside the home. All NHS staff, hospital patients, care home workers and their elderly residents would be able to book tests even if they did not have symptoms, he said.

The expansion of eligibility is expected to be a key factor in plans to ease lockdown restrictions.

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