Why So Many Health Care Workers Are Infected With Coronavirus

In principle, a high number of health care professionals were infected with coronavirus due to lack of knowledge about preventative measures against COVID-19.
Why So Many Health Care Workers Are Infected With Coronavirus
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 25 July, 2022

SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that has spread worldwide since December 2019, and is relatively new to science. It has affected large numbers of the world’s population. Many thousands of health care workers have contracted the virus too.

There are several possible answers to the question in this article’s title. However, none of them is definitive. The answer also varies depending on the country reporting the infection.

Global reasons why coronavirus is infecting health care workers

The pandemic took us by surprise, and it’s infecting large numbers of health care workers. It’s one of the most extensive outbreaks in pandemic history and wasn’t expected.

When China reported its first cases, the health care system wasn’t prepared to deal with what quickly became an epidemic, and then a pandemic.

Staff working in health care, whether doctors, nurses, paramedics, or even cleaning staff in hospitals and clinics, didn’t take adequate precautions to prevent infection in the first place, for obvious reasons. Neither did they carry out tests in time to prevent the spread of the disease.

Although China alerted the world of the outbreak in the Wuhan region, other countries didn’t pay attention to what was about to happen.

A doctor.
Health care professionals are most at risk as they’re the most exposed.

Continue reading: Risk factors for coronavirus mortality

Health care workers infected with coronavirus, country by country

Reviewing the information of the three most-affected countries in the world by the pandemic, other causes can be found for the high rate of infection among health care workers.

Italy has the highest rate of general infections and deaths from COVID-19. There are over 5,000 health care workers infected with coronavirus. This is equivalent to 9% of the total number of cases in the country, and 19 people have already died in this sector.

In Spain, the number of infected health care professionals is approximately 5,400. This c orresponds to 12% of the total number of people affected there. China has reported a figure of around 4% of health care workers infected.

Discover more: Types of tests for detecting coronavirus

What caused these infections?

The lack of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) also adds to the large number of health care workers infected with coronavirus. This equipment is suddenly in high demand, and there’s not enough for everyone.

Medical associations in several countries report that it’s difficult to obtain PPE. To a lesser extent, latex gloves are also in short supply. This means they have to ration the use of available materials, meaning that it’s infecting more people.

Another cause is that not all health care centers closed common areas such as canteens or waiting rooms fast enough. Therefore, the WHO’s recommended 5 feet social distancing rule was almost impossible to meet. Because of that, the virus spread more quickly.

Faced with this reality, medical industries around the world have worked hard to make more gloves and masks in record time. Authorities have also asked them to produce respirators, alcoholic gels, and sanitizers to clean hospital equipment.

Medical staff wearing PPE.
Adequate equipment is essential to protect health care workers from infection

Helping health care workers out

To protect health care providers, authorities have advised the general public to request phone consultations rather than visit health centers. Increasing amounts of patients in hospitals expose everyone, including health care personnel. It’s our responsibility to respect quarantine and isolation measures. This will then help slow the spread of coronavirus so that health teams can work without being overburdened.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Trilla, A. (2020). Un mundo, una salud: la epidemia por el nuevo coronavirus COVID-19. Medicina Clínica, 2020, vol. 154, num. 5, p. 175-177.
  • Pérez-Then, Eddy. “NUEVO CORONAVIRUS 2019-NCOV: IMPACTO EN SALUD GLOBAL New Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: global health impact.”
  • Trilla, Antoni. “Un mundo, una salud: la epidemia por el nuevo coronavirus COVID-19.” Medicina Clinica 154.5 (2020): 175.
  • Trejo González, Roxana, et al. “Which are the prevention measures against Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?.” Revista Latinoamericana de Infectología Pediátrica 33.1 (2020): 4-6.
  • Jhony, A. “Protegiendo al personal de la salud en la pandemia Covid-19.” Revista de la Facultad de Medicina Humana 20.2 (2020): 3-3.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.