Over 90,000 health workers infected with COVID-19 worldwide

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At least 90,000 health-care workers worldwide are believed to have been infected with COVID-19, and possibly twice that, amid reports of continuing shortages of protective equipment, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said on Wednesday. The disease has also killed more than 260 nurses, it said in a statement, urging authorities to keep more accurate records to help prevent the virus from spreading among staff and patients.

The Geneva-based association added that the death toll among nurses is twice as high in comparison to a month ago.

“The figure for health care workers infections has risen from 23,000 to we think more than 90,000, but that is still an underestimation because it is not (covering) every country in the world,” Howard Catton, ICN’s chief executive officer, told Reuters Television in its lakeside offices.

“This failure to record both infection rates and deaths among healthcare workers is putting more nurses and their patients in danger,” he added.

The 90,000 estimate is based on information collected on 30 countries from national nursing associations, government figures and media reports. The ICN represents 130 national associations and more than 20 million registered nurses.

Catton, noting that 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, said: “If the average health worker infection rate, about 6% we think, is applied to that, the figure globally could be more than 200,000 health worker infections today.

“The scandal is that governments are not systematically collecting and reporting on this information. It looks to us as though they are turning a blind eye which we think is completely unacceptable and will cost more lives,” Catton added.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which is coordinating the global response to the pandemic, said on 11 April that some 22,000 health workers were thought to have been infected. The body however, noted that not all of its 194 member states are providing comprehensive figures on health worker infections as they grapple with the unprecedented crisis.

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