SOUTHEND HOSPITAL has waved goodbye to its final Covid-19 patient, as the team ready themselves for the potential of a second wave.

The patient was discharged from Southend Hospital on Thursday, which means the hospital is no longer treating any Covid positive patients, although more could arrive in the coming days and weeks given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.

The team have treated some remarkable Covid survivors during the peak of the outbreak, including Shoebury’s Felix Khor, who left the hospital after almost 11 weeks as a patient.

Dr Antoine Azzi, head of the Southend Emergency Department, has welcomed the latest news, but warns it’s not time to take our foot off the pedal with the threat of a second wave looming upon us. He said: “For the first time in five months we have no Covid patients left at the hospital, which is absolutely fantastic news. Everyone has worked so hard and the last couple of months have of course been difficult for everyone.

“With that being said - now is not the time to be complacent. We still need to be very very careful, I do think there could be a second wave so we need to get ready.

“This does give us a bit of time and the first hit has prepared us for the second should it happen. If it does happen it’s only going to be a matter of time, maybe around October. It’s difficult then because it is flu season, so it’s hard to differentiate between a normal cold and the coronavirus.

“It’s not over yet, but everyone has been doing so well. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

Southend Hospital bosses confirmed on Friday that they weren’t treating any Covid positive patients, however a spokesman reiterated it could change at any moment.

The spokesman said: “At this moment, Princess Anne Ward and the rest of the hospital has no Covid-19 patients, which is cautious good news.

“With new patients being admitted and tested daily, that situation can easily change. It has been hugely positive to see numbers decrease and all of our staff have continued to provide high quality care to our patients during these challenging times.

“We’ve all come a long way in the past couple of months but Covid-19 is still likely to be with us for some time. We must all continue to follow socially distance, keep washing our hands and reduce the risk of spreading the infection.”

Mr Azzi has now urged patients to visit their GP for longer term issues first unless it’s an emergency, in the the hope of avoiding overcrowding in A&E.

He added: “Before we had to focus on our Covid patients during the height of the outbreak, but we’re now seeing a rise in visitors with longer-term problems which they should see the GP for first.”

“We’re at less of a capacity now and want to avoid crowding in A&E and we have to keep at least one metre apart. There is still a risk, so please see your GP if you can.”