Chloe Middleton
© Facebook
Chloe Middleton was taken to hospital after a heart attack, but attempts to resuscitate her failed.

Comment: Note: This article has been scrubbed by the Guardian. The original link now says "This article was removed on 28 March 2020 pending review."


The death of 21-year-old Chloe Middleton - the UK's youngest coronavirus victim, her family believe - has not been recorded in the official toll because of confusion about how she died, the Guardian can reveal.

Middleton was taken to Wexham Park hospital in Slough last Thursday after having a heart attack. Attempts to resuscitate her failed and she was pronounced dead soon after arriving, a source said.

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.

As a result of the hospital's view, the death has not been recorded among the NHS tally of UK coronavirus fatalities.

A Facebook post by Middleton's aunt claiming she had no underlying health issues is no longer available. Her family has been subjected to online abuse and accusations of spreading alarmist news about her death.

An NHS source said this was unfair. "They have been given the information officially from the coroner that this is [a] Covid death," they said. "And that's their understanding of it." But the source said the coroner's move "raised eyebrows" at the hospital because she had not tested positive for the disease.

Middleton's mother, aunt and boyfriend have not responded to the Guardian's requests for an interview. Berkshire's three coroners have also not responded to requests for comment.

But later, a spokesman for Reading council issued a statement on behalf of the coroner's office, which said: "Chloe died at Wexham Park Hospital on the 19 March 2020. The case was reported to the Berkshire coroner's office. Her death was very sad but as she had a natural cause of death, involvement by the coroner was not required and the hospital issued a death certificate.

"There was no postmortem examination or inquest. We must now respect the privacy of her family and cannot provide any further information."

The youngest official victim in the UK is thought to be 28-year-old Adam Harkins Sullivan, a painter and decorator from Camden, north London, who died at University College hospital in London on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the hospital confirmed that a 28-year-old man had died on 24 March after testing positive for the virus. "He died with Covid-19. I cannot tell you whether that was the reason he died," she said.

Harkins Sullivan was being treated in an isolation ward with other patients who had also tested positive for the virus. Speaking to the Camden New Journal, his mother, Jackie Harkins, said: "We are all just in shock because he was only a young man. He was healthy - you didn't have to tell him to eat his greens. He was always like that.

"He went into hospital with viral pneumonia, but other than that he was healthy. People have got to start taking this seriously."

She said her son was taken to hospital in an ambulance last week after he reported breathing difficulties and a temperature of 39.9C.

She said: "He was ringing us that day and at night. Then he rang at 1.15am and said [they] wanted to put him into an induced coma, they wanted to help him breathe."

She added: "Before Adam died, I did get to see him, because it was the end and his last moment. He was in a room with other people with coronavirus. They come and put gloves and an apron on you. He was virtually dead and it was just a machine keeping him alive. I was talking to him, telling him: 'You're at UCH. You need to fight.' He flatlined. He flatlined again, and then again. And I knew there was no coming back."

Last Sunday the NHS suggested an 18-year-old male had died from coronavirus, but it has since emerged the teenager had tested positive for the disease in a hospital in Coventry but died from an unrelated condition.