Vast majority of nurses and other healthcare works who caught Covid-19 contracted it at work

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


coronavirus covid-19

Almost 90% of healthcare workers with Covid-19 caught virus at work

Nearly nine in every ten nurses, doctors and other healthcare staff who have been infected with Covid-19 in Ireland did so in hospitals or other work settings.

Official figures provided to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisations (INMO) says that 88% of healthcare workers with Covid-19 got the virus at work.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) figures run until May 30. Excluding cases which are unknown/under investigation, they show:

88% got the virus in a healthcare setting as staff
4% from contact with a confirmed case
3% from travel
3% from community transmission
1% from a healthcare setting as patients.

Of the 8,018 cases of infected healthcare workers in the figures, 2,551 are under investigation without a known source of transmission. Those cases are 32% of all healthcare worker cases and not included in the above percentages.

Overall, healthcare workers make up a third of all COVID positive cases in Ireland. Nurses make up a third of those – the largest single group of workers infected.

As of May 30, seven healthcare workers have died from the virus, 1,515 (19%) have recovered, and 4,823 are still ill (60%). 20% of cases have a currently unknown status.

The INMO has repeatedly called for these figures to be released. Following a meeting this week with the Minister for Health, the union has received a commitment that they will be published weekly.

To combat the high rate of infection among healthcare workers, the INMO is calling for three policy changes:

- Amend regulations to class COVID-19 as a personal injury under health and safety legislation.

- Facilitate healthcare workers who come into unprotected close contact with COVID-19 to self-isolate for 14 days, without exemptions.

- All healthcare workers – not just those in nursing homes or clusters – be provided with regular COVID-19 testing. 

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:

“One in three COVID-19 cases are healthcare workers. One in ten are nurses. And these figures show the vast majority have caught the virus at work.

“This figure cannot simply be accepted as normal. We need to tighten procedures and test more to ensure that frontline staff don’t get the virus they are fighting. This isn’t just about PPE, it’s about policy too.

“The government should classify this as what it is: a workplace-acquired personal injury. This would not only reflect reality, but ensure that the full range of health and safety rules would be rolled out to protect frontline workers,” she said.