How should healthcare workers be protected from COVID-19? | Inside Story
Health workers are at the front line of any outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection with an outbreak pathogen. Some of the hazards include pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence.
Patients who have unusual symptoms of COVID-19 pose considerable risk to healthcare workers who may not have a high level of clinical suspicion in these patients and adopt adequate protective measures. Risks of healthcare worker infection can be mitigated with adequate precautions within health facilities. This involves the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) including a gown, gloves, face mask, and a face shield or goggles. Risks of infection in healthcare workers appears tied to duration of shifts and hand hygiene, among other factors. Caring for patients with COVID-19 disease causes considerable mental stress, resulting in high levels of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, especially among nurses. These conditions have a major impact on healthcare workers, but also undermine their decision-making ability and quality of interaction with patients . Protective actions within the home may include separating living spaces and bathrooms where possible and having a routine when arriving at home after duty, such as taking off shoes, removing and washing clothing, and immediately showering.