Health union: all medical workers might be infected with coronavirus in a month

Almost one fifth of the total number of Romanians infected with the coronavirus are medical personnel, as 734 health workers have tested positive for the virus, the Romanian Health Solidarity Federation announced on Monday. According to the health union, the rate of infected healthcare workers will grow significantly in the next couple of weeks, and in 30 days, all healthcare workers will be infected.

“On April 5, 2020, 734 health workers were positively confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2. Of the total infected, 19 percent are medical personnel. The average daily rate of SARS-CoV-2 infections among healthcare employees in the last week was 22.7% (meaning that the rate of infected health workers grew each day by 22.7%, while on March 30, only 215 member of medical staff were infected – ed. note). If this trend continues, then all healthcare workers will be infected within 30 days,” the union stated in a press release.

The Romanian Health Solidarity Federation also pointed out that the number of infected medical workers could be even higher, as not all of them have been tested.

“Taking into consideration the inadequate use of testing and the absence of testing for all employees, we believe that the actual number of infected workers could be much higher,” the federation states in its press release.

The union also underlines that 0.367 percent of all healthcare workers are infected, while the infection rate in the population stands at 0.193 percent, meaning that the rate of infected medical personnel is almost two times higher.

The possible progression of the number of infected healthcare workers. Photo: Romanian Health Solidarity Federation

The Romanian Health Solidarity Federation calls (again) for a set of urgent measures, which may contribute to diminishing the effects of a disastrous employee protection policy. They ask for individual protective equipment for all employees, in accordance with regulations. They also underline that a new, minimum protective policy should be established in which it would be regulated that all healthcare workers must wear at least a mask and gloves. “Romanian Health Solidarity Federation has been constantly asking for this for almost three weeks, demonstrating that the procedure for rationalizing individual protective equipment (subsequently approved by WHO 533/2020) is wrong. Even though the authorities discuss the need for all citizens to wear masks, this measure was not introduced until now for all healthcare workers,” the federation further states in its release.

The union also suggests that all medical personnel should be tested, multiple times if necessary, in the following order: Those who’ve had contact without complete protective equipment with a COVID-19 patient, followed by employees working continuously with infected people, and finally the rest of the workers. “We remind you that, although we have been asking for this for two weeks, the testing algorithm as of this moment includes symptomatic employees and direct contacts only (contacts of the contacts are not tested),” the union wrote. On the other hand, the union asks for the testing of all patients, since patients without any symptoms represent the main source of infection among healthcare workers.

The federation also believes that the government should focus on providing information and training to employees. The union thinks that state institutions failed to anticipate the need for training and later left workers to take care of their own training for infectious diseases specialization; both failures have led to the current situation of healthcare workers.

The quick introduction of standard procedures in all hospitals, focused on the precautions needed in the COVID-19 pandemic, is another measure proposed by the federation. “Central authorities have missed the extremely low level of local initiatives and the need for guidance for hospitals. The state institutions that could have intervened quickly with a supporting role (for example A.N.M.C.S. – National Authority for Quality Management in Health) were not mobilized,” the union states.

The federation also asks for the establishment of labor protection measures for healthcare workers and for the restitution of dialogue at a central and local level. The union additionally considers that only container hospitals should be used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and thinks that the most efficient way to combat the pandemic is via the quick construction of facilities in each region designed to treat patients in serious condition.

Title image: 0.367% of all healthcare workers are infected, while the infection rate in the population stands at 0.193%. Photo: Romania-Insider.ro

Author: Orsi Sarány