The Queen has opened up about her experience of COVID-19, revealing it left her "very tired and exhausted."
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But Her Majesty was all smiles as she virtually attended the official opening of a new hospital unit named in her honour from her desk at Windsor Castle last week.
She spoke to NHS workers and patients at the Royal London Hospital’s Queen Elizabeth Unit, which was built in just five weeks in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
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Staff at the 155-bed critical care unit cared from more than 800 seriously ill patients, at times with support from combat medical teams from the Army.
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The monarch heard from Asef Hussain and his wife Shamina about how he is continuing to recover from the virus which sadly killed both his father and brother and until recently, left him wheelchair bound.
The Queen asked him: "Are you better now? I'm glad that you are getting better. It does leave one very tired and exhausted, doesn’t it, this awful pandemic."
She added: "In your time it was the bad version, wasn’t it?"
The Queen virtually opened the hospital
Turning to Shamina, Her Majesty asked: "And so you were not allowed to see him, but you could talk to him?"
She was told that Asef was able to speak to his loved ones by videocall and that on one occasion, his family arranged for a virtual prayer session joined by some 500 people across the world.
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The monarch also asked medics speaking to her from inside the unit: "This particular bit where you’re standing, this was specially built, was it, for the pandemic?"
Told it was, she beamed as she said: "It’s amazing isn’t it, what can be done, when needs be. You’re the record builders, are you? You had to build it so quickly!"
Her Majesty spoke about her health
Told that at the peak, some 650 workers were working seven days a week, 24 hours a day to complete the project, Her Majesty exclaimed: "Good gracious!"
Speaking to a group of medical staff, the monarch said: "It obviously was a very frightening experience to have Covid very badly, wasn't it?"
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Senior Sister Mireia Lopez Rey Ferrer told her: "Those patients in those beds, they were somebody’s loved ones, away from home away from their families, fighting a dreadful virus. As nurses we made sure that they were not alone. We held their hands, we wiped their tears and we provided comfort.”
And Junior Sister Charlie Mort added: "The amount of bravery both the patients and my colleagues showed throughout the entire pandemic was amazing, and the amount of kindness we were shown was awe inspiring. I think we'll all be bonded together, because of it, forever."
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At the start of the call, the Queen, who is patron of the Royal London Hospital, laughed as Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, told her: "Welcome, or should I say e-welcome to the Queen Elizabeth Critical Care Unit."
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He later unveiled a commemorative plaque on the monarch's behalf, reading the inscription for her.
She signed off by saying: "It's been very nice to be able to join you and also to hear what happened and how well it has been achieved. Thank you very much, all of you."
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