A NUMBER of patients have died at Glasgow’s superhospital after contracting coronavirus during their treatment.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde declined to confirm how many patients have died at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on confidentiality grounds, but the Herald understands that they include liver disease patients who had been on a ward recently closed to new admissions as a result of the outbreak.

The hepatology ward re-opened on Tuesday night following a 14-day closure.

It is understood that around 13 patients in total tested positive for the Covid-19 infection with 11 staff absent as well following positive tests.

It comes as the Herald can also reveal at least one coronavirus case has been confirmed as recently as last Friday among patients on a haematology ward at the QEUH.

A relative of one of the patients, who is receiving chemotherapy, said they had been on the ward for several weeks already “so could only have contracted it on this ward”.

The source said they were not surprised, adding that there were no checks on who is coming and going from the hospital.

"Once you're through main door at QEUH it’s like a day out at Silverburn.

"All you need to do is flash a carrier bag and say 'going to Give and Go desk'.

"No checks inside whatsoever. It’s shocking."

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The health board insisted that it is not dealing with any current outbreaks and that no wards in the hospital are closed to new admissions due to Covid.

The facility is designed to limit the spread of hospital-acquired infections by accommodating patients in single rooms.

However, the virus can be brought in by staff or visitors and spread by touching surfaces contaminated with viral particles, known as fomites.

It also transmits in the form of aerosol droplets released into the air by coughing.

However, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is particularly dangerous because some people who are infected show no symptoms at all but are still known to spread the infection by 'shedding' viral load.

In a statement, NHS GGC said it was unable to confirm the number of patients who had died a result of Covid-19 infections caught at the QEUH due to confidentiality.

It said: "Unfortunately there have been a number of deaths across the country as a result of the pandemic, including within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

"We are unable to comment further on this element of your enquiry due to patient confidentiality."

Asked about recent positive cases in a haematology ward, NHS GGC again said it was unable to comment in detail due to patient confidentiality.

In a statement, the health board said: "There are currently 570 cases in hospitals across Scotland, including 257 cases within Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which is the largest health board.

"This includes QEUH, however, there is no ‘outbreak’ at QEUH and there are currently no wards closed at the QEUH due to Covid-19.

"We are unable to confirm further details of case numbers as doing so would breach patient confidentiality."

READ MORE: Ward closed at Glasgow superhospital amid outbreak among staff and patients 

Dr Linda De Caestecker, NHS GGC's director of public health, said it was more important than ever to follow Covid guidances as cases rise across the region.

She said: “Unfortunately, cases are rising within Greater Glasgow and Clyde, as they are across the UK.

"While we are in a stronger position now than in March due to an increased understanding of the virus, as overall numbers increase, so too does the number of hospital admissions with COVID-19 and sadly, so do the numbers of deaths.

“It is a true testament to our hard working and professional staff that to this point we have been able to continue delivering high-quality care to patients despite the pandemic.

"However, it’s absolutely critical that the public follows the guidelines laid out by the Scottish Government to support our frontline workers in being able to continue delivering this level of care and to manage the number of Covid-19 cases in hospital.

“This will give our hardworking staff the capacity to continue treating patients, and in the long-run, to save more lives, so we would please ask the public to remember the FACTS: wear a face covering, avoid crowded places, clean your hands frequently, maintain a two-metre distance, self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.”

On Monday, NHS Lothian confirmed that a "very small number of patients" had died following a Covid outbreak on a cancer ward at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

NHS Lothian said the number was fewer than five.

Nine patients and six members of staff had also tested positive and were self-isolating.

During the First Minister's daily Covid briefing, Scotland's chief nursing officer Professor Fiona McQueen said viral infections would spread into hospitals whenever prevalence in the community is high.

She said: "As we see numbers of infections with Covid-19 in the community rise, this raises the prospect of increased transmission within our hospitals and care homes.

"I urge staff, patients and visitors to be even more vigilant than usual."

Prof McQueen added that a National Specialist Infection Prevention and Control service "works with health boards to proactively monitor Covid-19 incidents in hospitals and boards" and to implement "a range of infection prevention and control measures which minimise the transmission of all infections in hospitals...so that clinical staff can deliver safe and effective care".