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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