The Spanish government has announced 769 people died of COVID-19 related complications over the last 24 hours. A dark day in the country’s history was made even darker by the news that Spanish healthcare workers are rapidly becoming infected themselves.
The limited availability of medical supplies and a severe shortage of hospital beds has pushed the Spanish healthcare system to breaking point.
Spain currently has 64,059 cases, while 4,858 patients have died during the COVID-19 crisis.
Medical personnel are working longer days than ever. At work they must deal with patients spread all over the hospital and, when they end their shift, they fear bringing the virus home to loved ones. The fear is legitimate: 14% of the total number of cases are now medical staff who have been infected while combatting the pandemic. Out of all the brave Spanish medical professionals 5,400 have now contracted the virus.
The problem with medical staff getting infected by COVID-19 is not unique to the Iberian nation. In Italy at least a tenth of healthcare workers became infected, according to the New York Times. France is reporting similar numbers, as Europe’s doctors and nurses have become the front-line of the pandemic.
The rate of infection among medical professionals is deeply concerning, especially among retired professionals who are being recalled to help with the crisis. The retired medical professionals are often much closer to the age when COVID-19 becomes high risk and the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) increases further.
The United Kingdom is asking tens of thousands of retired medics to return to duty. Scotland has asked anyone who has retired in the last three years to consider returning to assist in the national epidemic.
Personal Protective Equipment
As retired workers return to assist those patients suffering from the virus, governments need to prioritize the provision of PPE to those healthcare workers that stand between containment and a human catastrophe.
Healthcare workers risk life and limb to protect every other human on earth, from the United States to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While governments pump trillions into their economies, few are taking the steps to force industry on a war-footing to produce sufficient PPE. The industrial might of our global capitalist system can provide relief to those brave healthcare workers. While healthcare professionals are rightfully celebrated, they deserve all the protection our governments can provide them.
In a time of economic and medical uncertainty, protecting those that protect us is the best investment available.