Many soldiers have seen first-hand the horrors of war and, terrifying though it often was, they knew who they were fighting, and could recognise their enemy. In the world-wide pandemic, the COVID-19 is the enemy, unseen yet spreading like wild fire and yes, our heroes are the health workers who daily leave their families, friends and loves ones to take care of COVID-19 patients.
In 1918, the Spanish flu in 18 months affected 500 million people, or roughly one-third of the world’s population, and kill 50 million (according to the numbers quoted by the CDC), making it deadlier than both world wars combined. This new coronavirus has certainly shown the limits of our ability to deal with major disease outbreaks with no country left out judging from an Amnesty International Report published today showing that
More than 3,000 health care workers worldwide have died from COVID-19, reiterating that this is likely a “significant underestimate.
During the Ebola outbreak six years ago, the World Health Organisation estimated that health workers were between 21 and 32 times more likely to be infected with Ebola than people in the general adult population. In West Africa more than 350 health care workers died while battling Ebola. This current heart breaking figure of deaths of health workers from COVID-19 is rather frightening.
Countries with the most health worker deaths include:
545 – Russia
540 – UK
507 – US
351 – Brazil
248 – Mexico
According Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director general of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said; "We have had 812 health care workers infected, they are not just numbers, 29 of these work for NCDC, they are people I know, they have families, wives and children".
For now, however, the virus is spreading and, on the frontline between a nervous public and those responsible for directing national responses, the healthcare workers on whom we all depend can easily be forgotten.
Our prayers go out to friends and families of lost health workers
Meanwhile, following a letter that appeared in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, co-signed by 239 scientists and engineers, which implored WHO and other public health agencies that “it’s time to address airborne transmission of Covid-19.” WHO who previously, maintained that airborne transmission was unlikely to occur outside the hospital setting, where some procedures can generate super-small particles that linger in the air longer than large respiratory drops, has changed its stance to recognize that fact. “Short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out,” the WHO now states
There are conditions (coughing and sneezing) under which large drops don’t immediately fall to the floor and can spread more than 6 feet away from a person, and they can linger in the air for longer since the speed of the cloud, the temperature and humidity of the environment, and the individual droplet makeup of each cloud determines how long the droplets persist in the air, Lydia Bourouiba of JAMA network has explained.
Lydia Bourouiba is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments, and in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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