COVID-19: death of four nurses overseas highlights need for PPE, says ICN chief

Italian nurses’ association calls for more supplies ‘now, not tomorrow’

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At least four nurses have died across the globe in recent days after contracting COVID-19, highlighting warnings over the need for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

International Council of Nurses (ICN) chief executive Howard Catton said the deaths in Iran, Spain and Indonesia illustrate the dire consequences of inadequate PPE for nurses.

‘Sadly, we are seeing what happens when nurses are not properly protected and bravely continue to work and treat patients,’ he said.

Access to PPE for healthcare workers in Italy

‘Some of our colleagues have made the ultimate sacrifice and we know many more may die if we do not raise the alarm even louder and demand action.’

Access to PPE has been a concern in Italy, where figures show that 9% (2,609) of the country’s more than 41,000 COVID-19 cases have been among healthcare workers.

Italian nurses’ association president Walter de Caro said: ‘In some hospitals in central and southern Italy, staff have no PPE at all.

‘Colleagues have told me they feel like they are going into battle with paper shields and toy guns. We need these supplies now, not tomorrow,’ he said.

Concerns over lack of adequate face masks, aprons and gloves in the UK

UK nurses have also raised concerns about a lack of adequate PPE, including face masks, aprons and gloves.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We will continue to give our NHS and the social care sector everything they need to tackle this outbreak and we have central stockpiles of PPE.

‘We are working closely with industry, the NHS, social care providers and others in the supply chain to ensure these medical products are delivered to the front line as quickly as possible, helping minimise any risks to patients and staff.'

Find out more

Government guidance on infection prevention and control in healthcare settings, including PPE

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