According to research, even with the use of protective equipment, frontline healthcare workers have a three times greater chance of contracting COVID-19 than the general population.
COVID-19 thus far has killed more than 700,000 people around the world and infected more than 18 million people, according to the World Health Organization.
The study of healthcare workers and protective equipment looked at almost 100,000 frontline personnel in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Frontline Workers are More at Risk
The study confirmed that infections were a lot higher among frontline medical workers than the population as a whole. The rate of infection for these healthcare professionals was almost 2,800 cases per 100,000 frontline workers. For the entire population, it is just 242 infections per 100,000 people. More than 20 percent of frontline workers reported at least one viral symptom, such as fatigue, loss of taste or smell, cough, or fever. In the general population, about 15 percent have reported at least one viral symptom.
The study also found that frontline health workers from Black, Asian, and other minority backgrounds were most at risk of infection, five times more likely to contract the virus than the average white person. Minority workers are more likely to lack protective equipment available to other frontline medical staff and work in facilities where they have higher exposure to COVID-19.
Reusing Equipment Increases Risk
Frontline workers reusing protective equipment or with inadequate protective equipment were at increased risk of getting the virus. The risk connected to reuse could result from contamination that occurs when people continue to don and doff the gear or the deterioration of the equipment itself from repeated use. However, the researchers noted that during the time of the study, healthcare workers were not yet disinfecting the equipment before reusing it, which was done later.
Those with inadequate equipment had an even higher risk of infection. Also, frontline workers operating at inpatient facilities and nursing homes had a higher risk for COVID-19.
The research also showed that having enough protective equipment to meet the needs of personnel and the equipment’s quality both reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.
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