As countries struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak doctors and nurses face an increased risk of infections and death.
Over the weekend, the two hardest-hit European countries, Spain and Italy, announced more than 3,000 deaths as the coronavirus continues to strain their health care systems.
The coronavirus outbreak is increasingly impacting frontline medical workers due to their proximity to patients.
The Italian government has begun publishing a grim new set of data related to the pandemic that has paralysed the country.
At the time of writing, the number of health professionals who have died in Italy from the virus stands at 63. This is in addition to 2,629 health professionals that have been infected according to the Italian government.
“Many doctors die suddenly, even if the cause of death is not directly attributable to the virus,” warned the National Federation of Physicians and Dentists, which has published the latest data.
Many of the doctors that have died fall into the high-risk category of patients including 68-year-old Roberto Stella, president of the Medical Association of Varese who was one of the first doctors to die in Italy on March 11.
The figures for infected health care workers in Italy are almost double the reported rate in China where the coronavirus was first discovered.
Due to their proximity to highly infectious patients, doctors are increasingly facing risks in part due to a lack of equipment.
In the US, there have been reports of medical professionals running out of protective equipment as they try to fight the coronavirus.
As yet, there is no data on how many healthcare professionals have been infected in the US. However, some fear with the explosive rise in coronavirus cases, there could be a shortage of doctors if the US sees the same pattern as other places.
In the UK, there are also growing fears that doctors are not being provided with all the equipment that they need.
In part, because the health care system has experienced cuts, the UK, like many other nations trying to deal with the pandemic, has struggled to source the necessary equipment to protect front line staff.
In India, where there is a growing fear that the virus could spread as millions of go to their home villages. India’s Hindu’s nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a complete lockdown for 21 days.
India’s healthcare system is also acutely underprepared to deal with a significant outbreak of infections. Healthcare infrastructure in India is often underfunded or almost non-existent in rural areas where the majority of Indians still live.
To make matters worse, as people around the world have celebrated the bravery of healthcare workers, in India, doctors are being evicted by unscrupulous landlords fearful of the virus.
After the financial crises of 2008 many healthcare systems experienced funding cuts as governments imposed austerity measures.
There are more than 780,000 global infections and 37,843 deaths. One of the worst-hit countries is now the US with more than 160,000 infections and 3,170 deaths.
Europe as a region has also been impacted significantly with Italy and Spain leading in terms of global deaths with 11,591 and 7,716, respectively.
China, where the virus was first discovered, has managed to significantly halt the spread of the coronavirus with a daily increase of only 79 and many of the cases imported from abroad.