The UK has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 health worker deaths in the world, it has been revealed.
Statistics analysed by Amnesty International show at least 540 health and social workers have died as a result of COVID-19 in England and Wales alone.
The UK is second only to Russia, which recorded 545 health worker deaths.
Data for the UK was taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It notes that the UK is one of the few countries to differentiate between the deaths of healthcare workers and social care workers.
Consequently, the figures represent an increased total when compared to other countries.
Failures to protect
According to the 61-page report – Exposed, Silenced, Attacked: Failures to protect health and essential workers during the pandemic – the top 10 countries are:
- Russia (545)
- UK (England and Wales: 540, including 262 social care workers)
- USA (507)
- Brazil (351)
- Mexico (248)
- Italy (188)
- Egypt (111)
- Iran (91)
- Ecuador (82)
- Spain (63).
Amnesty researched and analysed a spectrum of available data. And findings revealed more than 3,000 health workers have died after contracting COVID-19 in 79 countries.
Additionally, the organisation suggests an underrepresentation of figures due to underreporting.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director, said an independent inquiry into the management of the crisis is ‘urgently needed’.
‘It is tragic that we’ve seen so many of our dedicated health and social care workers in England and Wales die from COVID-19,’ she said.
‘We have to understand whether these deaths were avoidable, and what led to this terrible outcome.
‘There appears to have been a catastrophic failure to provide proper PPE. And a failure to grapple with the alarmingly high death rates among BAME health workers.’
She added: ‘This crisis is far from over and an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is urgently needed.
‘We must learn lessons from this current crisis if we want to prevent future unnecessary deaths.’
In the UK, early studies suggest an overrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic employees in the total number of deaths linked to COVID-19 among health workers.
Some reports indicate more than 60% of health workers who died identified as BAME.
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