More than 3,000 health workers have been infected since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, in a series of tweets on Tuesday to mark the 2020 World Health Day, said many other health workers had paid the ultimate price in the fight against the virus.
“When health workers are exposed or become sick, they have to go home and stay there for at least two weeks. Hospitals scramble to find replacements,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.
He added, “That’s why we must ensure that health workers have the medical masks and other personal protective equipment they need.”
As of April 6, there had been 1.3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world, with 76,507 deaths.
Nearly 300,000 people have recovered from the COVID-19 infection.
Doing The Unthinkable
Dr Ghebreyesus used the opportunity to highlight the vital role of nurses and midwives, in commemoration of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
He said, “It may not seem that there are many reasons for celebration. The world is in the grip of the most severe health crisis of our time. The COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us of the vital roles of nurses and midwives play.
“Every day, nurses are putting themselves at risk to alleviate suffering and save lives. They’re reorganising wards to open more beds for COVID-19 patients, while continuing to provide care for other patients with urgent health needs, including women in labour.
“They’re taking stock of equipment and lending it across units. They’re learning on the job with information that changes daily – even hourly. Nurses are doing the unthinkable.
“Because critical COVID-19 patients are isolated, the last human touch they may feel is that of a nurse’s hand. The kindness of caring for strangers has never been more important.
“I hear stories about nurses video-calling family members late in the night, so they can say goodbye to a dying relative. Health workers are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, they’re also among the most at risk.”
“More than 3 000 #healthworkers have been infected & many have paid the ultimate price.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) April 7, 2020