THERE have been renewed calls for better protective equipment for frontline medical staff, with one Oxford doctor calling the present system an “utter disgrace.”

Dr Rachel Clarke, a palliative care specialist in the city, condemned the Government’s announced review of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, as the coronavirus death toll in the county rose to 11, with a further 140 positive cases.

NHS England confirmed the deaths were all at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, as well as Horton General Hospital.

The total number of confirmed reported deaths in England stands at 1,228 – with patients aged between 33 and 100. All but 13 had underlying health conditions.

The weekend also saw the death of another NHS doctor. Mr Amged El-Hawrani, 55, an Ear, Nose and Throat consultant at Queen’s Hospital Burton, in Staffordshire, died at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital on Saturday. His death followed those last week of London surgeon Dr Adil El Tayar and GP Habib Zaidi, from Southend Hospital, Essex.

Read more: Hospital doctor killed by coronavirus

Medical staff have complained of not having adequate protective gear, leaving them at risk of contracting the virus.

In response, the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and NHS England, announced they would re-examine current guidance over PPE. The medical director of Public Health England, Dr Yvonne Doyle, said: “Now that Covid-19 is much more widespread, we will carry out a rapid piece of work ensuring the guidance is clearer on which PPE should be worn in different NHS settings.”

However, Dr Clarke queried why our overdue PPE guidance differed from that of the World Health Organisation. Taking to social media, she said: “I simply cannot understand why I am not an infection risk to other staff and patients when only a skimpy plastic apron covers my body.

“Arms, neck, back and lower legs all bare, uncovered, potentially covered with Covid-19 from infected patients.”

The role played by frontline medical staff, and the public at large, have been praised by the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Craig Simmons.

In a statement, he said: “These are challenging times and I am proud of the way that Oxford is stepping up to make the changes necessary to beat the coronavirus. From what I can see and hear from others, businesses and individuals are generally heeding Government advice and avoiding unnecessary activities. Thank you.

Read more: Latest on coronavirus in Oxfordshire

“I know that this is not easy, but this is short term pain for long term gain. We must all continue to follow expert advice. No shortcuts, no exceptions. This is for the greater good.

“Oxford is home to health care services and research facilities with a global reputation for excellence. I was one of those who stood on my doorstep on Thursday and applauded the hard work and tenacity of our health care workers. It was a moving moment when the sounds of cheers and clapping echoed across the city.

“As well as those who work in the NHS, I would also like to pay tribute to the many other frontline workers and volunteers who are keeping essential services running, often at great risk to themselves; charity workers, bus drivers, food retailers and service providers, homeless outreach staff, pharmacists, waste and recycling operatives to name just a few. And behind the scenes I know that there are many office-based staff keeping things moving.

“This lockdown will not last forever. I do not know when it will end. What I do know is that we will emerge stronger as individuals, as a city and as a society when we do.

“In the meantime, we need to look out for one another and try to find some joy in the gloom.”

Thames Valley Police have been given further powers to help enforce the lockdown. The new legislation allows officers to use ‘reasonable force’ to ensure residents comply with their orders.

Yesterday, police reported a man had been arrested in Banbury after allegedly telling a police officer he had Covid-19 and then coughing on them.

Officers said the 27-year-old from nearby Mollington, had been charged with assault on an emergency worker and remanded in custody. He is is set to appear in court today.