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Nearly 1,600 medical workers confirmed with COVID-19

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TOKYO >> At least 1,590 medical workers, mainly nurses and doctors, have been infected with the novel coronavirus, according to Yomiuri Shimbun tabulations.

Of 816 workers whose occupations were identified, 61% were nurses.

The numbers highlight the high risk of infection in medical institutions and the need to take thorough protective measures.

As of May 31, the total number of COVID-19 patients, excluding those hit on cruise ships and in airport quarantine, was 16,558. The Yomiuri Shimbun analyzed data of 12,800 people whose job classifications were disclosed.

Documentation differed between municipalities. In some cases, patients were identified as “doctor” or “nurse,” while in others, the term “medical worker” was used.

Cases thought not to have occurred at medical facilities, such as at residences where other family members were infected, were excluded.

Of the 816 medical workers with job descriptions, 498, or 61%, were nurses. Nurses seem to be at increased risk because they come into contact with patients most often, from checkup to discharge. Others hit with the virus were 223 doctors and 44 medical clerks, plus dentists, pharmacists and physical therapists.

One snapshot: At St. Marianna University School of Medicine, Yokohama City Seibu Hospital, more than 40 doctors and nurses have been infected with COVID-19.

“I thought the novel coronavirus mainly spread through airborne droplets, but I was surprised that it spread so much by contact,” said a Yokohama health and safety expert who inspected the hospital.

According to a report about the outbreak, two patients admitted to the hospital were found to be infected on April 21, and subsequent infections were discovered there soon after. So far, 30 patients and 43 staff, 34 of whom are nurses, have been confirmed to have contracted the virus.

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