Still vulnerable

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At least 7,000 health workers worldwide have died after being infected with the coronavirus, London-based rights group Amnesty International reported last week.

“Every health worker has the right to be safe at work, and it is a scandal that so many are paying the ultimate price,” said Steve Cockburn, AI head of economic and social justice.

“Many months into the pandemic, health workers are still dying at horrific rates in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and the USA, while the rapid spread of infections in South Africa and India show the need for all states to take action,” Amnesty noted.

At least 1,320 health workers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in Mexico, a “staggering” cost of life, it added. Other hard-hit countries include the United States with 1,077 deaths among health workers, the United Kingdom with 649, Brazil with 634, Russia with 631 and India with 573. Furthermore, these figures are likely to be “a significant underestimate” as deaths may not have been officially registered in many countries.

“Throughout the pandemic governments have hailed health workers as heroes, but this rings hollow when so many workers are dying from lack of basic protection,” Cockburn noted.

The number of health workers who have succumbed to COVID-10 infections all over the world is truly terrifying, considering that they should’ve been fully equipped and prepared by their employers and the governments that are counting on them as they man the proverbial front lines. Many months have passed since the pandemic broke out, and while the number of casualties among health workers has been lowered, many are still vulnerable to COVID-19 infections and even death.

Countries that intend to fight the outbreaks will need to do more to ensure the protection of health workers from infection by providing maximum protection and support as they risk their lives day in and day out to keep us all as safe as possible from COVID-19.

Words are not enough. The world’s health workers need equipment, training, support, and adequate compensation. The governments of their countries must make sure that health workers can perform their duties safely so they can protect the public without worries and with the confidence that their country is behind them all the way.*


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October 2020