Rome , Apr 15:
Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have become the unwitting heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, winning applause from balconies and streets around the world.
From Yaounde to Rome to New York, the pandemic has infected more than 1.9 million people and claimed 118,000 lives.
Hospital workers are dealing with a huge influx of patients, while also facing a lack of equipment in many cases and the fear of becoming infected themselves. Often, they face heartbreaking decisions while treating their patients.
In Italy, one of the worst affected countries, dozens of doctors and nurses have died from COVID-19 and thousands of healthcare workers have become infected.
Silvana de Florio, nursing coordinator in the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome, underlined the importance of being appropriately kitted out with masks, visors, gloves, scrubs and suits to avoid contagion.
“We don’t set aside a specific amount of time for it, but we have estimated that for a seven-hour shift, about 40-50 minutes is spent just on getting dressed,” she said.
“Medical staff can’t get sick — not so much because of their ability to work, but because it would not be fair.” In the Pacific port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador, a sick nurse makes no attempt to hide her anger: 80 of her colleagues have been infected and five have already died. In the United States, Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Association, also complained about the lack of protective gear for medical workers.
“We don’t have the arms and the armour to protect ourselves against the enemy,” she said at a recent protest outside a hospital.
Benny Mathew, a 43-year-old nurse in New York, said he caught the virus after caring for at least four patients without adequate medical dress. With more than 195,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and around 10,000 deaths, New York state is the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, the worst affected country so far.