Poignant applause outside Whiston hospital after surgeon’s death

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This was the scene outside Whiston Hospital as the heroes on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus were once again in honoured in a nationwide round of applause.

Emotions ran high outside the hospital, where this week staff were hit by the tragic death of devoted dad-of-four Sadeq Elhowsh.

The popular 58-year-old orthopaedic surgeon spent 17 years working at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust before he fell victim to coronavirus on Monday.

Bosses at Whiston said he was "dearly loved by all of his close colleagues and well respected by his patients".

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In a statement, his devastated family said: "Sadeq was a wonderful husband, as well as a devoted father, and he dearly loved his family. We cannot put into words the depth of our loss."

He is one of the latest frontline NHS workers to have died as a result of the disease on Merseyside.

Hundreds of staff stood and clapped as the top surgeon made his final journey from Whiston Hospital on Tuesday.

Pictured with his children his family said "Sadeq was a wonderful husband, as well as a devoted father, and he dearly loved his family. "

And in poignant scenes tonight, staff returned to the outside of the hospital to mark the first clap for frontline workers battling to save the lives of coronavirus since Mr Elhowsh's death.

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Staff wiped away tears as they applauded outside the hospital's entrance, where a photograph of Mr Elhowsh was displayed on an easel.

Comedian Johnny Vegas, from St Helens, was also among those paying tribute outside the hospital.

A total of 124 people have now died after testing positive for the condition at the Trust's hospitals in Whiston and St Helens.

They are among more than 600 victims of the pandemic now confirmed in hospitals across Merseyside.

The ovation at Whiston was mirrored outside hospitals and in the streets across the region and the rest of the UK as tens of thousands of people once again paid tribute to those fighting coronavirus.

It came just hours after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced essential workers will be able to book coronavirus tests online from tomorrow.

He said any "essential worker" will be able to get a test by booking an online appointment.

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The health secretary also said companies will be able to book them for their employees from today, Thursday April 23.

Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Hancock said: "From today, employers of essential workers will be able to go on gov.uk to get a test for any of their staff.

"From tomorrow, any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointment on gov.uk themselves, directly.

This all applies for people in essential workers' households too who need a test.

"It's all part of getting Britain back on her feet."

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Mr Hancock said the whole process would be free for those being tested.

He clarified the definition of “essential workers” will be based on the list of key workers who can keep sending their children to school, which is available on the government website.

The health secretary added home testing kits were being rolled out while 18,000 people are being employed to assist with the government's "test, track and trace" approach.