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Coronavirus: More and More Healthcare Workers Test Positive, but Percentage Rate EU Average, says Chief Medical Officer

Fanni Kaszás 2020.04.27.

In recent weeks, more and more news has emerged of healthcare workers who have tested positive for coronavirus, including hospital staff, GPs, and pharmacists. Although so far, Cecília Müller, the Chief Medical Officer, confirmed several times that “there are” healthcare workers who are infected and quarantined, she did not specify the number of those who tested positive, but now she talked about the percentage of infected healthcare workers among all registered cases.

The first exact number was shared in early April, when Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister’s Office, presented important, previously unpublished data on those who tested positive for coronavirus at his weekly press conference. He revealed that at the time, a total of 85 healthcare workers had tested positive for the disease in Hungary.

Total of 85 Medical Workers Infected with Coronavirus

As we have also reported, there were confirmed cases in several hospitals and among other front-line workers as well. A hospital worker at the St. László Hospital, and two at the No. 1. Children’s Clinic at Semmelweis University tested positive, as well as at least three GPs in Budapest.

Coronavirus: Healthcare Workers Infected, Quarantined

Although the exact number is unknown since Gulyás’ statement, the news of several hospitals around the country where the coronavirus appeared among the staff has also emerged in recent days. According to government-critical weekly Magyar Hang, there is an outbreak of the coronavirus at St. Imre Hospital in Budapest. They reported on Saturday that in the hospital in the capital’s XI district, nearly a hundred patients were diagnosed with the disease, out of which at least 10 died, while 40 medical workers also tested positive.

On Friday, Hungarian television RTL reported that 21 employees of the Tatabánya hospital had become infected, and one of them also required a ventilator for his treatment. The first infected staff member was registered on April 16th at the hospital. Following that, more and more employees started to show symptoms, according to János Lőke, director of the Szent Borbála Hospital. In addition to the confirmed coronavirus patients, there are more than 60 workers in home quarantine. According to the director of the hospital, despite the lost workforce, they can still perform their duties. Several of the patients in the institution also became infected; so far, the virus has been detected in nine patients.

Over the weekend, a 41-year-old man appeared among the victims of the coronavirus on koronavirus.gov.hu. The ​​website listed the other serious ailments of the man, such as serious bacterial infection, sepsis, and intestinal inflammation. At the daily press conference of the operative board, national Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller, also spoke about the man, saying that intestinal inflammation caused by a bacterial infection was exacerbated by a coronavirus infection, and all that combined quickly proved fatal.

However, not long after, the man’s wife spoke to RTL Híradó, saying, contrary to Cecília Müller’s statement, that her husband had no underlying illnesses. She said that the man is one of the infected healthcare workers from the Tatabánya Hospital and the first known victim of the coronavirus among them. The man worked in the hospital for almost 20 years. He complained of weakness in mid-March and then developed symptoms of a mild cold. The health professional was hospitalized five weeks ago, which is when his family last saw him. His wife said that although the operative board reports him as a patient with chronic disease, he had no underlying disease before he was admitted to the hospital. The wife said he had contracted a serious nosocomial and intestinal infection called MRSA during his five weeks in hospital, in addition to his original coronavirus infection.

Until now, the exact numbers were not known, as the operative board has not published any data on the infections among medical staff. However, at today’s press conference of the operative board, Cecília Müller said that in Hungary, “the number of infections among the medical staff is similar to the rest of the EU. Currently, the rate sits at 13% of all infections, but many have already recovered.” This means that with the actual number of 2,583 registered infections, the number of confirmed positive patients among healthcare workers is around 335.

Müller added that it is known that “healthcare workers are much more vulnerable due to their jobs [as in the front-line they are more exposed to the disease]. Therefore, it is very important for them to wear protective equipment properly. They should observe all the necessary rules not just while wearing, but when applying and removing the protective equipment as well. We also help with educational films to help them learn how to properly do this.”

The spread of information is greatly hindered by the fact that Miklós Kásler, the Minister of Human Resources, instructed hospitals and their leaders not to comment on the epidemiological situation, including numbers of those infected in the hospital, both patients and workers, the number of those treated and those who passed away in their institutions as well as their underlying diseases, and the number of beds cleared during hospital evacuations in preparation for mass infections. Directors were asked to direct everyone to the operative board with questions. In recent weeks, several journalists and independent MPs were informed by institutions that according to EMMI’s instructions, only the government and the board can communicate during the state-of-emergency on these issues.

featured photo: Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI