IRELAND HAS the world's highest coronavirus infection rate for healthcare workers, the Covid-19 committee has been told.
General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Phil Ní Sheaghda yesterday told the committee that the rate of infection among healthcare workers was "an absolute scandal".
There are currently 8,172 confirmed cases of coronavirus in healthcare workers, making up a third of all positive cases in Ireland, which currently stands at 25,381.
These include nurses (2,591), healthcare assistants (2,056), allied healthcare workers (1,878), doctors (483) and porters(90), 88% of whom contracted the virus at work rather than community transmission or from contact with a confirmed case outside of work.
The reason for this record of infection rate is down to the lack of PPE at the start of the pandemic, Ms Ní Sheghda continued, stating that the INMO had to push again and again before the HSE made wearing a mask mandatory for all healthcare workers.
Before this, a nurse was sent home for wearing a mask as it was not HSE policy, the General Secretary stated.
“At the moment Ireland is top of the league, with the highest infection rate of healthcare workers globally," Ms Ní Sheaghda told the committee. "That is an absolute scandal."
Since face masks became widely available and were made mandatory for healthcare workers on 22 April, the infection rate among healthcare workers dropped dramatically.
The mandatory use of facemasks should have been implemented "from the very beginning", Ms Ní Sheaghda said.
Seven healthcare workers in Ireland have died from the virus, and 4,823 remain out sick.