AN NHS worker who treated patients after the Manchester bombings says coronavirus is unlike anything he has encountered before.

Gary Parsons works as a senior operating department practitioner in the operating theatre and critical care unit at Westmorland General Hospital.

Prior to this, Mr Parsons worked at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool for 10 years and more recently the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he dealt with the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bomb.

“That incident for us as a team at the Manchester Children’s Hospital lasted for weeks as we followed military style protocols guided by army surgeons, seeing children return to theatre in some cases dozens of times, for eye, facial, orthopaedic, vascular, general, and burns surgery," said Mr Parsons.

“But never at any point were we scared and never ever were we at risk from anything other than fatigue working incredibly long shifts, driven by the want for those children to have some kind of normal quality of life again.

“Now we are all at risk ourselves. Unlike the arena bomb we cannot post armed police or an SAS soldier with an automatic weapon at the front door of the hospital to keep this killer away and protect us - they like us are faced with the same risk.

“COVID-19 is a game changer. It is the worst kind of threat as it affects not just the way we work as professionals but is going to have a significant impact on our entire lives.

“We know it can stay active for not just hours but days on everyday things we use without a second glance or a thought and will remain active unless they are washed and cleaned.

“I guess right now is the time to reiterate the message surrounding not just good, but the need for exemplary personal hand hygiene.

“You can’t see COVID-19, you can’t see hear or smell it, but you can reduce the risk of contracting it by following the very simple steps described by the government and NHS and us as professionals: wash your hands often, stay at home, and use social distancing.”

Mr Parsons is urging those who are flouting social distancing rules to "stop it now".

“My feelings are incredibly strong regarding the lockdown rules,” he said.

“Those that abuse or ignore it are potentially simply passing this potentially killer virus to loved ones of their own, or family and friends of others."