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Europe must act now to stop the spread of deadly diseases due to COVID-19

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Healthcare workers and patients are being put at risk not only from COVID-19 but other deadly diseases as a result of an increase in sharps injuries due to the pandemic. 

Sharps injuries are accidents where a needle or other medical sharp instrument penetrates the skin with the potential to transfer blood borne viruses, including HIV or hepatitis B or C, from the patient to healthcare worker and vice versa. Sharps injuries cause increased costs and disruption in the healthcare system, which have all been exacerbated by the pandemic anyway. Sharps injuries also have a major emotional and mental impact on staff who always put patients first and literally have put their lives on the line during COVID-19.

The European Biosafety Network has commissioned a survey to be published in June on the impact COVID-19 has had on sharps injuries in Europe. The preliminary findings of the survey by Ipsos MORI, covering more than 300,000 healthcare workers in 80 large public hospitals across Europe, show that the number of sharps injuries has increased by some 276,000 injuries (23%) over the last year: with 98% of respondents saying that the increase was a result of the increased pressure and stress due to COVID-19.

Other recent published survey results also show that the number of reported sharps injuries has increased as a result of the pandemic. We need to ensure that other existing legislation and regulations which prevent sharps injuries are both understood and complied with.

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Source: The Brussels Times, 28 April 2021

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