Healthcare workers, especially doctors, nurses and cleaners, are the most exposed to the risk of contagion of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Doctors and paramedics work closely with patients in the intensive care units, during the administration of drugs, the examinations and in the worst cases during intubation, necessary for the most serious patients. Both in China and in Italy, the outbreak of the pandemic has found many hospitals and clinics unprepared. The speed with which the virus spread in the weeks leading up to the peak revealed a lack of personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks that sentenced many healthcare employees to death.
In the UK, the National Health Service has an older workforce than other sectors. This includes a higher percentage of staff with chronic diseases or volunteers returning from retirement who are more vulnerable to serious COVID-19 disease. Workers’ unions in Europe have asked governments to do everything possible to protect health workers from unnecessary and preventable damage. “While working in our specialized wards in Liverpool, we heard consistent concerns from National Health Service staff regarding the lack of COVID-19 tests for healthcare professionals and the significant shortcomings of personal protective equipment (PPE).” Says a nurse on “The Conversation”. The lack of tests for COVID-19 was also found in Italy, where doctors and nurses continued to work tirelessly without knowing that they had been infected.
In several countries such as China, “gagging” orders have been reported for healthcare professionals with the press and on social networks. The Chinese doctor who first spoke about the risks of the coronavirus was celebrated as a star when he died, after launching the alarm on social media for which he faced problems with local authorities. Such despicable actions should be condemned. Governments should pay particular attention to protecting workers in this sector by providing them with all the economic and material support to defeat the pandemic. The communities are also invited to do their part by staying at home and respecting the preventive rules established by the Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO).