A leading doctor has said "no coronavirus patient will die alone" as staff will be there to hold their hand in their final moments.

Concerning reports have emerged from hospitals about patients with Covid-19 dying with no one around them due to the contagiousness of the deadly bug.

But Dr Alison Pittard, speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, said that although staff were stretched dealing with the pandemic no one would die alone - although their family would not be around them.

Dr Pittard, of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, said: "We start off from a low-point, we don't have enough critical care beds from a normal standpoint, we know we don't have enough nursing staff or doctors to look after the patients.

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Dr Alison Pittard speaking to Sky News

"And so it's absolutely vital that we still try and deliver safe care.

"So yes, staff are having to work in strange environments, they're having to work in new shift patterns and they're also having to deliver care in a very different way.

"We normally do one-to-one nurse-to-patient ratios but we are having to stretch that as you say to six patients to one nurse.

"We are going to do our best to make sure it's as safe as possible.

"But obviously working in these unusual circumstances will be extremely stressful for staff and we need to make sure we look after their health and well-being so they can work through this pandemic.

Medics are being stretched by the outbreak, Dr Pittard admitted (stock photo)
Patients will not die alone, it has been pledged (stock photo)

"We have no idea if we will manage the peak or not - obviously we will do our absolute best.

"The most important thing that will have handle on if we can manage the peak or not is making sure that peak is as low as possible and falls below our capacity."

Asked about end-of-life care Dr Pittard said it was 'heartbreaking for families and heartbreaking for staff as well'

She went on: "One of the things we can try and do when someone dies in intensive care is to make sure their family are around them.

"There have been reports that patients have been dying alone and I would like to reassure the public that no person will die in hospital alone.

NHS staff have been heaped with praise (stock photo)

"They may not have their loved ones next to them but they will have healthcare workers; doctors, nurses and other members of staff who will be by the patient's side holding their hand and making sure that they're not alone when they die."

The UK death toll for coronavirus is 2,352 as of 9am yesterday.

That number is expected to increase again today.

There are 29,474 confirmed cases however it is estimated the actual number of cases in the UK could be as high as 1.7m.

The UK Government has come under intense criticism for its failure to 'ramp up' testing levels.

Professor Paul Cosford of Public Health England
Not enough tests are being performed (stock photo)

Prof Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director of Public Health England, said "everybody involved is frustrated" about not reaching the required testing output.

"We've got not as far as we've wanted to but we've got up to almost 13,000 tests a day being available," he said.

When asked about the 31% rise in the latest UK death toll numbers, Cosford said the day-to-day numbers were difficult to interpret on one day's change.

"My expectation ... is that we will continue to see an increase in the numbers of people being infected and admitted to hospital over the next two to three weeks but we should hit a plateau if all the social distancing measures are working in about two to three week's time, maybe longer."

He also told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Our role has always been to - and I speak from Public Health England (PHE) - make sure our labs are doing what they need to do and we're rolling tests out to the NHS for clinical treatment of patients.

"There is some capacity that is available within that in order to start testing NHS staff and that's being done.

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"You've heard about the 2,000 yesterday - nowhere near where we need to get to but it's a good start - and then there's the drive-through systems that are beginning."

Asked why other testing facilities were not being used, Prof Cosford said PHE is most closely involved in NHS testing before adding: "The second (strand) is how we can use all of those laboratories, all of that capacity, to boost up at least 100,000 tests a day, hopefully more."

Prof Cosford said he would expect this work to be in place "over the coming days and a small number of weeks".