Health workers catching COVID on the job
A Victorian government report has found that 70–80 per cent of the state’s health workers testing positive to COVID-19 were infected at work. That’s compared to 22 per cent in the first wave.
The report found infection of healthcare workers was greatest in areas where there were many patients with COVID-19 being cared for together, and where health-care workers congregated, such as tea rooms.
Other contributing factors were the increased risk associated with donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE), staff moving between healthcare facilities, and poor ventilation systems with inadequate air flow.
The report found health-care workers in aged care accounted for around two in five infections, and hospital workers around one-third.
By the end of August the number of health workers infected with COVID-19 in Victoria had exceeded 2800.
“Controlling the number of new healthcare worker infections is essential, not only for healthcare workers but for the sustainability of our healthcare system, and to reduce the overall number of cases,” commented Alicia Dennis, an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne in The Conversation.
The Victorian government has convened a Healthcare Worker Infection Prevention and Wellbeing Taskforce bringing together infection control experts and workforce representatives to formulate a response to the report.