Healthcare workers account for one third of COVID-19 cases in Ireland

25 May 2020

Source: Irish Independent

Healthcare workers make up almost a third of total COVID-19 infections in Ireland – one of the highest proportions in Europe – with the HSE admitting there had been “difficulties” with testing.

Recent figures show that healthcare workers account for 32pc of COVID-19 infections in Ireland, just under one-third of the total number of cases, which is one of the highest proportions in Europe. The percentage of healthcare workers who have contracted COVID-19 in Italy and Spain, two of the worst affected countries in Europe, is 10pc and 20pc respectively.

According to the “Business Post”, figures from 30 countries show that at least 90,000 healthcare workers have been infected – 6pc of all confirmed infections.

The HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said yesterday that the number of infections among Irish healthcare workers was “clearly a concern to us”.

He told a Covid-19 briefing at Technological University Dublin that a number of factors could have caused this higher proportion of healthcare workers among the total.

We know in our country, we had difficulties with testing and volume testing at one stage, but throughout our difficulties, even when our volume testing was very low, we continued to prioritise healthcare workers, so even when we weren’t testing other areas, we continued to test that cohort of people, so it may represent a disproportionate amount of area testing.

Now we are testing at a broader scale, we see the healthcare workers as a total number of cases reduced.

As to why it’s happened in those people who’ve had it (medical staff), we know in some cases, in the early stage of the pandemic, it was somewhat travel-related.

In the medium phase, it was predominantly raised in community transmission. There was more widespread dissemination of the virus within the community for healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers.

In the latter stage, healthcare workers predominantly got it in a healthcare environment and as we tightened up with infection control, particularly in a community setting… measures began to kick in, with a reduced amount of healthcare workers testing positive.

But it’s a serious statistic and a cause for concern for us.

Dr. Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE


Dr Henry added that when Ireland was “compared to other countries, we don’t have the same story in terms of testing, or in terms of the positivity rate”.

Also speaking at the briefing, Health Minister Simon Harris said the downward trend in cases of coronavirus showed “progress” had been made due to the public abiding by social restrictions.

“This progress is thanks to you and your family,” he said.
“We now need to maintain it and work to carefully find ways of living alongside the virus by following our plan. Stay safe. We will get there.”

Source: Irish Independent