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  • Nurses honor 109 health professionals who died from COVID-19, Brazilia, Brazil, May 12, 2020

    Nurses honor 109 health professionals who died from COVID-19, Brazilia, Brazil, May 12, 2020 | Photo: EFE

Published 14 May 2020 (14 hours 22 minutes ago)
Opinion

Despite the social importance of their activity, nurses have reported verbal or physical attacks.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) Thursday informed that at least 100,000 health workers have contracted COVID-19 so far and asked governments to publish more complete figures on this worrying situation.

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In some European countries, over 10 percent of coronavirus-infected people are health workers. In Spain, the proportion of affected reached 19 percent, although the ICN stressed that international comparisons are difficult due to different ways of accounting for infections.

The ICN adviser Howard Catton explained that Spain only reported the death of three nurses because of the pandemic, while the USA, the U.K., or other countries with rates lower than the Spanish rate have reported higher numbers of victims.

"The large differences between the official figures show how useful it would be to have more complete information to understand the risks," he stressed and added that at least 260 nurses have died worldwide, which is another official figure that surely misrepresents reality.​​​​​​​

On May 12, health workers remembered the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and stressed that the world needs at least six million more of these health workers.

To cover the shortage of specialized personnel, developed countries are hiring health professionals from developing countries. In this process, for example, India and the Philippines have become important providers of nurses for hospitals in Europe or North America.

In the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, 16 percent of nurses come from other nations. If the trend continues, the consequence "could have a very significant impact" in undeveloped countries with health systems, Catton warned.​​​​​​​

Despite the social importance of their activity, nurses have reported verbal or physical attacks during the pandemic, an inadmissible behavior of which Mexican nurse Alison Salgado was recently a victim.

"We are concerned that they have thrown burning chlorine and coffee on the street... people are terribly afraid and reject us," Catton said, recalling that some Latin American governments are not timely providing safety equipment to their nurses.

"Many nurses work in fear of catching and infecting their families," he added.​​​​​​​

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