Close to 100,000 Canadian healthcare workers have become sick with COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, according to a new report published Thursday.
A total of 94,873 nurses, doctors, and care aides have been infected with the virus, and almost 30,000 of those infections occurred in the first six months of 2021.
To date, 43 Canadian healthcare workers have died from COVID-19.
Those numbers are from new data released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which tracked health worker infections from the start of the pandemic until June 15, 2021.
“While the data does not distinguish where the infection was acquired, it does provide an understanding of the degree of impact, which is critical in maintaining levels of care and responding to potential surges of need. Ensuring a healthy workforce will help sustain care for all Canadians,” the report’s authors wrote.
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They noted that although the number of cases in healthcare workers has continued to grow, the share of total COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers decreased. Healthcare workers had earlier access to vaccines than the general population, protecting them against infection earlier than the average person.
Cases in healthcare workers accounted for 6.8% of Canada’s total virus cases as of June 15, 2021. That’s a higher proportion than in the US, France, and Germany.
Of all health workers, personal support workers (PSWs) were the most likely to become infected with COVID-19. Sometimes called care aides, these hands-on workers were 1.8 times more likely to become sick than nurses and 3.3 times more likely to catch the virus than doctors.
The report comes as Ontario makes vaccination policies mandatory in the healthcare sector, where workers must show proof of immunization or submit to regular COVID-19 testing.
British Columbia has also made vaccination mandatory for long-term care and assisted living workers.
Canada has seen 1.46 million total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 27,000 people have died.