By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - More than 230,000 health workers have so far contracted the novel coronavirus globally, while over 600 nurses have died due to the virus, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said in a report on Wednesday.
“Nursing is looking like one of the most dangerous jobs in the world at the moment,” said ICN CEO Howard Catton.
The ICN said it called on governments to record the number of infections and deaths among health workers and take whatever measures are needed to protect nurses from the novel coronavirus.
Worldwide, there is no systematic and standardized record of the number of nurses and healthcare workers who have contracted the disease or died.
“But ICN’s analysis, based on data from our National Nursing Associations, official figures and media reports from a limited number of countries, indicates that more than 230,000 healthcare workers have contracted the disease, and more than 600 nurses have now died from the virus,” said the council.
“We need a central database of reliable, standardized, comparable data on all infections, periods of quarantine and deaths that are directly or indirectly related COVID-19,” said Catton.
He said countries need transparent reporting and monitoring mechanisms and they should also include psychological and sexual incidents and physical violence against healthcare workers.
“Without this data, we do not know the true cost of COVID-19 and that will make us less able to tackle other pandemics in the future,” he said.
ICN’s analysis shows that, on average, 7% of all COVID-19 cases worldwide are among healthcare workers, meaning that nurses and other staff are at considerable personal risk, and so are the patients they care for.
Extrapolating ICN’s 7% figure to cover all the world’s countries means that around 450,000 of the world’s over 6 million cases could be among healthcare workers.
ICN said that the proportion of infected people who are healthcare workers varies widely between countries.
However, ICN said many countries are not recording the data, making meaningful international comparisons extremely challenging.
“We need to get this data for every country and work out exactly what is going on that explains the variations that are evident with even a cursory glance at the figures,” said Catton.
“Only then will we be able to learn how best to keep our nurses safe and prevent any repeat of these terrible statistics in the future.”