The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has been compiling data from more than than 30 countries to ascertain these statistics, and Howard Cattin, ICN CEO, notes that as the numbers keep going up, nursing is looking like ‘one of the most dangerous jobs in the world at the moment’. “In the last two months, we have seen the number of deaths of nurses as a result of coronavirus around the world rise from 100 to now in excess of 600 and we think, worldwide, the number of healthcare workers who could be infected by the virus is around 450,000,” he said.
“For weeks now we have been asking for data about infections and deaths among nurses to be collected,” he added. “We need a central database of reliable, standardised, comparable data on all infections, periods of quarantine and deaths that are directly or indirectly related Covid-19. Countries need clear reporting and monitoring mechanisms, and they should also include incidents of psychological, sexual and physical violence against healthcare workers.”
ICN also reported disparities between the infection rates of healthcare workers in different countries and ethnicities
The ICN details that, on average, seven per cent of all cases of Covid-19 are among healthcare workers, putting both nurses and other healthcare staff, as well as their patients, at great personal risk.
What’s more, ICN also reported disparities between the infection rates of healthcare workers in different countries and of different ethnicities, noting that healthcare worker infection rates range between one per cent in Singapore to more than 30 per cent in Ireland; that some countries such as Spain and Germany, which have high numbers of cases, are recording low numbers of deaths among healthcare workers; that deaths among nurses appear higher in some Latin American countries; and that there is a disproportionate number of deaths among black, Asian and minority ethnic healthcare workers.
We need to get this data for every country and work out exactly what is going on that explains the variations that are evident with even a cursory glance at the figures
These findings, ICN notes, raise a number of questions that could be answered if all countries kept comprehensive standardised data, and if these were collated centrally on a global scale – something that the ICN is imploring governments to do.
“We need to get this data for every country and work out exactly what is going on that explains the variations that are evident with even a cursory glance at the figures,” said Cattin. “Only then will we be able to learn how best to keep our nurses safe and prevent any repeat of these terrible statistics in the future.”
He continued: “Florence Nightingale knew the importance of data in the fight against disease, and its lack in this case is potentially costing the lives of many nurses, devastating their families, and cutting off their careers in their prime. This must not be allowed to continue and ICN demands that action is taken now to put this situation right.”