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Coronavirus nurse death toll as high as number of nurses killed during World War 1

A healthcare worker sits on a bench near Central Park in the Manhattan borough of New York City

Coronavirus nurse death toll as high as number of nurses killed during World War 1

The number of nurse deaths from COVID-19 is now as high as the number of nurses killed during World War One, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) says. 

Coronavirus nurse death toll as high as number of nurses killed during World War 1

Data gathered by the ICN from 130 nurse associations reveal that 1,500 nurses have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

It’s the same number of nurses believed to have been killed during World War One, which lasted four years.

ICN says the number of COVID-19 nurse deaths is likely much higher, as the figures are only taken from 44 countries where the data is available.

“The fact that as many nurses have died during this pandemic as died during World War I is shocking”, the federation’s chief executive Howard Catton.

The ICN says they have been demanding systematic collection of data on healthcare worker infections and deaths since May.

“The fact that it is still not happening is a scandal,” says Catton.

The number of overall healthcare worker deaths from COVID-19 could be at least 20,000, the ICN suggests.

Catton says if nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale were alive today, she would be “immensely saddened and angry” by the lack of data.

“Florence demonstrated during the Crimean War how the collection and analysis of data can improve our understanding of risks to health, improve clinical practices and save lives, and that includes nurses and healthcare workers.

“If she were alive today, world leaders would have her voice ringing in their ears saying they must protect our nurses. There is a chasm between the warm words and accolades, and the action that needs to be taken.”

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