Covid-19

Risk Of COVID-19 Among Frontline Health Workers

COVID-19 has become a global health threat and it has been disproportionately affected in the UK and the USA, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities.

The risk of reporting a positive test for COVID-19 was increased among front-line-health-care workers.

Risk Of COVID-19 Among Frontline Health Workers

Disease burden raised with ongoing community transmission from asymptomatic individuals. Also, health care workers require close personal exposure to patients with SARS-CoV-2.

Risk-Of-COVID-19-Among-Frontline-Health-Workers

They are at high risk of infection and this contributes to the further spread of the virus. The outbreak came up with the same issues along with certain other problems involving public, administrative, and healthcare sector concerns. 

How the outbreak affects health care workers?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has a detrimental effect on global healthcare systems with a ripple effect on every aspect of human life. The spread of the virus has psychologically impacted healthcare professionals.

They are under psychological pressure and experience high rates of psychiatric morbidity, resembling the situation during the SARS and H1N1. they are at an increased risk of exposure to the virus.

So the frontline doctors, nurses, and other health care workers fear that they may be affected by COVID-19. They are also feared about bringing the virus home and passing it to their loved ones and other members.

Studies reported that the healthcare staff is in increased stress levels when dealing with uncooperative patients which are not adhering to safety instructions, and feelings helpless when dealing with critically ill patients, as there is no definitive treatment available as well as limited intensive care beds and resources. 

This chronic weakness may lead to impairment of concentration, poor vigilance, short-term memory, reduced retention capacity, impaired motor skills, and clinical judgment.

The frontline health care workers are also affected by various health disorders like backache, fatigue, headache, irritable bowel disorder, anxiety, etc.

They are also affected by co-morbidities including diabetes, hypertension, or chronic respiratory diseases and this makes them more vulnerable to corona-related complications. 

Also read, Asymptomatic COVID Infections – What Are They?

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare facilities

Healthcare facilities are facing financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This burden will influence patient care, surgeries, and surgical outcomes.

Health professionals face reduced income and labour opportunities during this economic recession. As people are practising social distancing and minimizing their outside activities, many people who would otherwise be using healthcare are now choosing to stay at home.

Also, healthcare workers are busy dealing with COVID-19 patients. So the hospitals were suffering from the decline in their patients. They also reported reductions in the use of their health care services up to 70% and have witnessed an 80% fall in patient’s visits due to current lockdown and test volumes. 

Higher risk of pathogen exposure and infection

Exposure to large numbers of patients in long shifts with inadequate rest periods increases the risk of pathogen exposure and infection of healthcare workers.

Lack of personal protective equipment, lack of measures to prevent the spread in hospitals, more pressure of treatment, work intensity, and lack of rest indirectly increased the probability of infection for healthcare workers.

Delayed recognition of COVID-19 symptoms and lack of experience in dealing with respiratory pathogens also contribute to a higher risk of infection. WHO has recommended following a few steps to combat this situation. They are:

  • Training healthcare professionals to recognize respiratory diseases
  • Provide access to personal protective equipment
  • Support them mentally
  • A strong hospital surveillance system
  •  Recognize that every healthcare system has gaps

Protective equipment supply and usage

Protective equipment is necessary to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others. But the world is facing a shortage of that equipment and this leaves doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients.

Healthcare workers are more prone to infection due to the limited access to supplies such as gloves, N-95 masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons.

Also, the severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding, and misuse is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases too. 

An additional burden for female staff

The female staff is facing additional burdens due to the longer shifts at work and additional care work at home. 70% of the health workforce are females and they are exhausted, worried, and emotionally drained. Many women health workers are under emotional and mental pressures.

The government should have taken measures to support workers, particularly those working in sectors involved in emergency response that are less likely to be able to work from home. 

COVID-19 is a dangerous illness that affects people’s lives, and in many cases, threatens the lives of infected people. Be it in daily routine or disasters, healthcare professionals are on the frontline and are responsible for providing holistic care for all types of patients.

Their roles in treating patients with COVID-19 involve triaging patients and detecting suspected cases with infections, providing essential treatment in an emergency and dealing with suspected patients with precautions, etc.  

Read more about: Effective Tips To Tackle Work From Home Situations

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