Health-care workers in Quebec who faced the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic were more vulnerable to contracting the virus than the rest of the population, according to a report released by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Wednesday.
The report, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), found that health-care workers were 10 times more at risk of getting infected by the virus than everyone else.
The report found that 13,581 health-care workers had tested positive for COVID-19 between March 1 and June 14, 2020, representing a quarter of the total cases reported in Quebec during the first wave of the pandemic. Eleven health care-workers died.
According to an epidemiological study by the INSPQ of 5,074 health care workers that were affected by the virus, 75 per cent of workers reported having been in contact with patients that were suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19,
The study also found that 70 per cent of infected health-care workers were health-care assistants, nurses, and auxiliary nurses. Doctors accounted for only 3 per cent of total cases. Nearly half, 48 per cent, of health-care workers affected by the virus worked in long term health-care facilities, known as CHSLDs in Quebec, and 34 per cent worked in hospitals.
Eighty-three per cent of health-care workers believe that they were infected while working; 33 per cent that said it was from a patient, 10 per cent said it was from colleagues, and 40 per cent said they were exposed to patients and colleagues and could not identify the source of their infection.
In a press release, the MSSS said that important lessons have been learned from the first wave of the pandemic and that many actions have been taken in the recent months to prepare for a second wave.
Since the pandemic began, Quebec has had a total of 89,963 cases of COVID-19 and 6,005 deaths.
With files from Radio-Canada