Inside a Welsh ICU during the coronavirus pandemic – photo essay

Consultant and photographer Nick Mason shares his experience and that of colleagues at the Royal Gwent hospital in Newport, offering a unique perspective documenting the full impact of Covid-19 on the NHS front line

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” TS Eliot, Burnt Norton

Human memory is fickle. Only a few brief months ago, many intensive care units (ICUs) across Britain came close to being overwhelmed by patients with a novel coronavirus, unknown to medicine before January of this year, and causing potentially life-threatening lung disease in up to 20% of those it infects. With the relaxation of the lockdown, however – only possible because it had been so effective – and the good summer weather in which we have been encouraged by Westminster to eat, drink and be merry, we have begun to forget. We have rapidly forgotten the fear and anxiety that rightly held Britain in their grip throughout the spring of 2020, the 40,000 people who died from a single infectious disease within a few brief months and the incalculable suffering caused to their families. We have forgotten that more than 600 health and social care workers died as a result of their work caring for others.

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