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'Stay at home' - Respiratory team's plea to NI public as Belfast Health Trust says coronavirus crisis is our greatest challenge

The respiratory team at the Belfast Health Trust has issued an impassioned plea to the public to socially distance to help save thousands of lives.

Doctors, nurses and physiotherapists sacrificed some rare time off on Sunday to film a hard-hitting video that highlights the potentially catastrophic effect of coronavirus on families across Northern Ireland.

The video opens with members of the Belfast Trust respiratory team standing two metres apart at the atrium at the Mater Hospital and a consultant stating: "We are now in the greatest medical crisis of our lifetime. Stay at home."

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Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Another consultant says: "We are now at a crucial time, this is not a rehearsal, you will only have one chance at this. Stay at home."

"We all have a choice, if you choose to stay at home, you will save lives," states another respiratory consultant.

His colleague continues: "I've been a doctor for 35 years, we're facing our greatest challenge and we're frightened. Help us, please stay at home."

One of the respiratory physiotherapists says: "I know where my kids are, where are your kids?

"Keep them at home, stay at home."

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Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Her nurse colleague says: "Doctors and nurses have died, we need your help so we can help you."

Anne Marie Marley, a respiratory nurse consultant, said staff are working overtime to prepare for the surge in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks.

"Never in my 34 years of nursing have I seen anything remotely like what we are currently facing," she said.

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Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

"This is like something we could never have imagined.

"I think when we began to see what was happening in Italy and subsequently what's happening in London and other cities, it has become clear about the importance of every single person staying at home.

"We are so worried about what is coming and that's why we're trying to do everything to get the message out there that people need to stay at home and only go out when absolutely essential.

"This isn't the media scaremongering, we have to take this seriously or the ramifications are too awful to think about."

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Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

Images from the appeal by Belfast Health Trust workers

A number of consultants have come out over the weekend to warn that the health service will collapse if the surge of coronavirus cases becomes too high.

One said that hospitals in the Belfast Trust are already using operating theatres to ventilate critically ill patients.

Ms Marley said NI is likely to see a surge in patients in the next fortnight. But she stressed that people can still take action to reduce the stress on the already struggling health service.

"We know the surge is coming," she said. "Even if you think the virus won't hit you that hard, every single person has the ability to help save lives by following the social distancing."

Belfast Telegraph