Coronavirus: To win the war on COVID-19 Frontline workers must come first

Coronavirus: To win the war on COVID-19 Frontline workers must come first. :pic credits Reuters

Around the world health care workers are being infected with coronavirus.

Across Western Europe, health care professionals have used the language of war to describe the struggle against the coronavirus, which has left some hospitals on the brink of collapse.

If health care workers are the soldiers on the front lines, they should be given every protection no matter the cost.

In any war if the frontline falls, we all do! NHS workers must be tested constantly to keep everyone safe.

Only 2,000 NHS frontline workers out of about half a million have been tested for coronavirus so far, despite up to one in four being off work with suspected symptoms in some areas of the country.

In Spain government officials confirmed 13,000 health workers had now been infected by the virus, and the country’s total number of cases of a 100,000 is now greater than that of China.

U.S. public health experts warning of a cresting wave of coronavirus infections in the coming weeks, rates of transmission among the nation’s front-line fighters — doctors, nurses and other medical staff — are setting off alarm bells.

Disparities in testing and tracking in many states — and the lack of national data — make the actual infection rates among medical personnel difficult to pin down. Still, state health departments in Ohio and Minnesota are reporting that up to 20 percent of those infected are health care professionals, a number in line with Italy and other hard-hit regions of the world.

While New York is currently the epicenter of the pandemic, front-line health care workers are at risk throughout the country.

Without proper testing the frontline is collapsing

In Connecticut, some 200 nurses are in quarantine due to a lack of testing, Healthline reported. In Washington state, dozens of staffers at a nursing home tested positive for the coronavirus; in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 160 employees of Berkshire Medical Center have been quarantined due to exposure to the virus.

In Italy, the country hardest hit by the virus so far, 20 percent of health care professionals have become infected, according to a recent update in the medical journal The Lancet. Most of those were in the country’s northern Lombardy region, where the virus has been especially lethal.

Meanwhile France reported 509 deaths from Coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 4,032. It is the fourth country to record more than 4,000 fatalities after Italy, Spain and the US. The total number of confirmed cases is now 56,989, up about 9% from Tuesday.

Boris Johnson laments ‘sad, sad day’ for UK as death toll soars to 2,352

The government is facing growing pressure to ramp up coronavirus testing, as the UK saw its biggest daily increase in deaths.

Some 2,352 virus patients have died in hospital as of 17:00 on Tuesday – up 563 in a day, the latest figures show.

Boris Johnson said testing was “massively increasing” and it was “the way through” the pandemic. But the reality on the ground tells a different story.

Meanwhile a major international climate meeting, COP26, is the latest event to be postponed as a result of the virus.

The climate talks were due to take place at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus in November, but the venue is being turned into a temporary field hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

The UN’s climate body, the UNFCCC, and the UK government said the summit would be pushed back to 2021.

In a video message posted on Twitter, the prime minister said Wednesday had been a “sad, sad day” due to the high number of deaths in the UK.

Mr Johnson also reiterated the government’s commitment to “ramp up” testing, saying: “This is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle. This is how we will defeat it in the end,” he said.

‘Hundreds of thousands’ of tests promised

The government has been under pressure to increase the screening of medics, so that those who are self-isolating unnecessarily can return to work.

More than 2,500 NHS frontline staff in England and Wales have been tested for the virus since the outbreak began.

But cabinet minister Michael Gove said a shortage of chemicals needed for the tests meant the NHS – which employs 1.2m in England – could not screen all workers.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said the government was working with NHS England, Public Health England and other organisations to boost test capacity with an additional network of labs and testing sites.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England medical director, told a daily coronavirus briefing in Downing Street that there was currently capacity for about 3,000 tests a day for frontline NHS staff.

She said the “intention” was for testing for frontline staff to increase from “thousands to hundreds of thousands within the coming weeks”.

Dr Doyle said the UK was not in “as severe” a position as Spain, the US or Italy, but added there was “no reason to be complacent”

She said while the spread of the virus was most advanced in London, the Midlands region – where more than 3,500 people have tested positive for the virus – was “obviously a concern” too.

Dr Doyle added while use of public transport had gone down since the government enforced social distancing measures, an “up-tick” in motor vehicle use in the last 24 hours was “slightly concerning”. She urged members of the public to stay home to “protect the NHS”.

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