Drastic new rules see nurses banned from wearing their uniform outside of work after several are ‘egged’ and abused amid the coronavirus crisis
- Healthcare workers are being told not to wear their uniforms outside of work
- The drastic measure came after a number of nurses were abused in the street
- Accused of spreading COVID-19, some staff were spat at and pelted with eggs
- One nurse previously spoke out saying a coronavirus patient spat at her
- Queensland’s heath minister called the vile attacks ‘abhorrent’ behaviour
Brave nurses battling on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic are being told not to wear their uniform outside of work in fears of them being abused in the street.
Hospitals are advising staff to take the unsettling precaution after nurses reported being ‘egged’ and abused on the streets, with some being accused of ‘spreading’ COVID-19.
Staff are being verbally attacked, and even pelted with eggs, in supermarkets and on public transport.
The bullying is taking place across Australia, with staff at hospitals in Queensland told to take the drastic measure to protect themselves.
Workers at the Princess Alexandra, Queensland Children’s, Prince Charles, Logan, Gold Coast and several Mater hospitals have all reported such incidents, according to the Courier Mail.
A nurse screens patients outside a clinic in the Barossa Valley, north of Adelaide, on Tuesday (pictured). Many were told not to wear their uniforms outside of work in fear of getting abused
Steven Miles, Queensland’s health minister, called the treatment ‘abhorrent’.
‘They have been vilified, they have been threatened, they have been treated abhorrently,’ he said on Friday.
‘I want to call on every Queenslander if you see someone out and about in a Queensland Health uniform, they’re our heroes.
‘They should wear their scrubs with pride – not fear they’ll single them out for abuse.
‘They are people who go to work every day to take care of us, so thank them, don’t yell at them.’
It comes after a whistleblower in NSW revealed members of healthcare staff were even being spat on.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles (pictured, centre) looks on as clinical nurse Janice Geary (right) examines a patient at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane on March 6
The shocking revelations come just days after a whistleblower from a NSW hospital claimed nurses and cleaners there were being abused and spat on.
‘Nurses are being spat on and copping abuse if they’re seen anywhere in their scrubs,’ they told The Northern Star.
‘The common statement is, ”you’re spreading the disease”. It’s the epitome of ignorance.
‘Most staff don’t work in the COVID-19 clinics. They are very careful to prevent the spread of disease.
‘Nurses and cleaners should be revered for what they’re doing.’
One exhausted nurse told the Courier Mail staff were being ‘treated like lepers’.
‘It is soul destroying,’ she said.
A nurse (pictured) has revealed a patient suspected of having coronavirus spat on her face while she was treating him as he awaits his test results
‘We’ve been told not to wear our uniforms anymore after three cases of nurses being egged while walking into work – we are the ones turning up every day to help people, yet we are being treated like lepers.’
In carefully managed COVID-19 rules, all hospital staff are required to wash their uniforms after every shift to kill any trace of the virus.
Last week, one NSW nurse revealed a patient suspected of having coronavirus spat in her face while she was treating him.
The young woman, who works in New South Wales – the epicentre for the deadly virus in Australia – shared her story on social media.
A healthcare worker (pictured) talks to a man at a pop-up clinic testing for the coronavirus disease at Bondi Beach on Wednesday after several outbreaks were recorded in the area
Wearing blue scrubs, she detailed how the patient told her he did it because ‘I’m going to get sick anyway’.
‘Australians generally have this attitude about coronavirus where they don’t care whether they live or die or kill, or their grandparents, which is already super fun to deal with,’ the young nurse says in the clip.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 5,337
New South Wales: 2,389
Western Australia: 422
South Australia: 385
Australian Capital Territory: 87
Northern Territory: 22
TOTAL CASES: 5,337
‘But yesterday I had a patient spit on my face. We don’t know if he’s been confirmed or not but he’s been tested, we haven’t got the swabs back yet. He spat on my face because ”I’m going to get sick anyway”.’
During the past few weeks some nurses have been refused entry to stores while wearing their uniforms, others say they have been abused in the street.
The incidents are believed to be caused by frightened people who think they are at risk of catching the virus from healthcare workers.
The fears are completely unfounded, with staff treating COVID-19 patients required to be fully decontaminated at the end of their shift to avoid spreading the virus.
An email from Gold Coast Health noted the virus had left many members of the public frightened and caused some to lash out at nurses.
It said one nurses was spat at while travelling to work while another was refused entry to a store because of their work uniform.
A police officer overseeing a hotel quarantine at the Duxton Hotel in Perth on Monday (pictured) as the government tries to stop the spread of COVID-19
WILL WINTER MAKE IT HARDER TO BATTLE COVID-19?
While not yet upon us, the Australian winter might make fighting COVID-19 harder again, says one of country’s leading infectious disease experts.
Although flu’s peak time is June to August, it’s potentially worrying that we’ve already seen widespread coronavirus infection while it’s still warm, according to Adelaide University professor Michael Beard.
‘So what’s going to happen in winter? It could be worse,’ he told AAP.
‘We just don’t know, but there are some concerns.’
One is that the saliva and mucus droplets we cough up and sneeze out are smaller in winter, which means they more deeply penetrate the lungs of anyone who breath them in. It’s not good news if they’re infected.
Face masks have become a regular sight in Australia, with people wearing them to protect from the virus (pictured, a woman in Sydney on March 17)
Mucus is 98 per cent water so if it’s instead allowed to dry out, it can produce that crusty kind of nasal obstruction we’re all occasionally familiar with, which also allows pathogens to get trapped in our airways.
One place that’s most likely to happen is inside during a winter’s day with heaters blasting or fires roaring.
Outdoors in the cold, however, the nose and lungs can also have a decreased response to virus infection. So that could be another potential problem.
Prof Beard says perhaps his main concern moving into the Australian winter is ‘how this coronavirus is going to interface with influenza virus infection.
‘I would urge people to get their flu vaccinations.’
The coronavirus could become harder to battle as winter sets in (pictured, a woman wearing a mask in front of Sydney Opera House on March 13)
Complicating matters, pandemics often don’t follow normal seasonal outbreak patterns. The Spanish flu (1918-1920), for example, peaked during summer.
However, researchers at the University of Maryland have found the worst COVID-19 eruptions so far have been clustered in a narrow band across the Northern Hemisphere that has consistently similar weather and takes in China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, France and the US Pacific Northwest.
‘It couldn’t have been bad luck that these particular places were hit,’ project spokesman Mohammad Sajadi told the Wall Street Journal last week.
‘This virus is acting like a seasonal respiratory virus. We could be wrong but with the data we have, we think that is the most likely scenario.’
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