March 19, 2020 12:13 pm

Thousands Of Medical Staff Infected With Coronavirus In Italy

Rome - As coronavirus cases jump and deaths surge in Italy, new figures show an “enormous” level of contagion among the country’s medical personnel.

At least 2,629 health work­ers have been infected by coronavirus since the onset of the outbreak in February, representing 8.3 percent of total cases, according to a re­port published on Wednesday by Gruppo Italiano per la Me­dicina Basata sulle Evidenze or GIMBE - Italy’s Group for Evidence-based Medicine.

“We extracted this num­ber from data provided by the National Health Institute,” GIMBE Director Nino Carta­bellotta, a public health expert, told Al Jazeera.

“Figures regarding the contagion among doctors, nurses and general health pro­fessionals have started being disclosed only on March 11. Hundreds of new cases have been daily recorded since then. But medical personnel on the front line should be the first to be protected.”

Cartabellotta said the ac­tual number was likely to be higher because healthcare workers are not always tested and protection measures at hospitals were inadequate.

Many who tend to coro­navirus patients are still only using surgical face masks with no proper protective filters to shield them from contagion.

The percentage of health workers infected in Italy is al­most double the number regis­tered throughout the epidemic in China, during which a total of more than 3,200 people died.

According to figures pub­lished in JAMA Network Open, an online medical site from the Journal of the Ameri­can Medical Association, in­fected medical staff in China made up 3.8 percent of the total cases, with only five deaths.

Over 60 percent of the med­ical staff who were infected were registered in the epicen­tre’s outbreak, Wuhan.

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