A SOUTHAMPTON doctor has told the story of a 35-year-old patient with coronavirus managed to speak for the first time after spending 58 days on a ventilator.

Dr Sanjay Gupta, lead consultant for critical care at Southampton General Hospital, claims she came close to death and has now started recovering and speaking since she was admitted to the intensive care unit.

The unidentified female patient who was treated at the hospital is now known to have spent the longest period in an intensive care unit while infected with the virus across Britain.

She is still being supported by the ventilator, however doctors say she is no longer completely reliant on the supportive breathing appliance.

Dr Gupta said: "Suddenly she can communicate, whereas before she was so weak she could barely lift a finger to write anything.

"After almost two months of 24-hour monitoring, the patient still faces a lengthy convalescence with a prolonged period of rehab."

Patients who go into intensive care are intubated, which is when a breathing tube is inserted through their mouth, followed by attaching a ventilator to the tube so it can push air into the patient's lungs.

If a patient spends about three weeks on a ventilator, doctors usually perform a tracheostomy, where they replace the tube through a surgical opening in their windpipe.

The Southampton patient underwent a tracheostomy several weeks ago, according to Dr Gupta.

Daily Echo:

He added: "A tube through the front of your neck is easier to tolerate. It means that you can basically wake the patient up, switch off all sedation and start to mobilise them more."

"She has virtually no muscle strength left - barely enough to breathe. If you’re on a ventilator or in intensive care, your skeletal muscles de-condition.

Mr Gupta also said that over time, they aim to "wean" patients off the ventilator.

There are at least 12 patients with coronavirus who are receiving critical care 56 days after admission in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to figures published by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre.