Chloe Middleton: the coronavirus death that wasn’t

The 21-year-old’s tragic death has not been recorded as due to Covid-19.

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Topics Science & Tech UK

This week, the news of the heartbreaking death of 21-year-old Chloe Middleton went across social media. She was reported to be Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim with no pre-existing condition. And so her case was quickly held up as proof as to why young people – thought to be too blasé about Covid-19 – should take the outbreak more seriously.

But the Guardian reports this afternoon that her death has not actually been recorded as a Covid-19 death:

Middleton was taken to Wexham Park hospital in Slough last weekend after she had a heart attack. Attempts to resuscitate her failed and she was pronounced dead soon after arriving… A Berkshire coroner said the death was related to Covid-19 after being told Middleton had a cough, the source said. But this surprised medics at the hospital, who have not recorded it as a coronavirus incident.

An NHS source tells the Guardian that ‘the coroner’s move “raised eyebrows” at the hospital because [Middleton] had not tested positive for the disease’.

This shows us the dangers of allowing political imperatives – ie, the need for young people to take this crisis seriously – to get ahead of the facts. Amid this outbreak we need clear-eyed discussion of what’s really going on.

It seems this tragedy was too swiftly leapt upon and turned into a cautionary tale about Covid-19, purely because it aligned with some people’s worst fears. We need to do better.

Picture by: Facebook.

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