More than 50 doctors in Italy have reportedly died due to complications from coronavirus as the country continues to struggle with the massive impact caused by the pandemic.
A total of 51 doctors who tested positive for COVID-19 have succumbed to the disease as of Friday, according to CNN, citing the Italian Association of Doctors. Filippo Anelli, president of the association, had recently called for doctors in the country to be provided with more personal protective equipment (PPE), noting that the possibly preventable deaths have taken a heavy toll on the profession.
"The first thing to do is to protect healthcare workers, to make sure they are not the ones spreading the virus. Our doctors have been sent to war unarmed," Anelli told The Financial Times in a Thursday article. "The dead do not make a noise. Yet, the names of our dead friends, our colleagues, put here in black and white, make a deafening noise."
Italy has the highest COVID-19 death toll of any country in the world, with over 10 percent of cases resulting in death so far. Out of over 86,000 cases in the country as of Friday, there were over 9,100 deaths and almost 11,000 recoveries. At least 6,414 health care workers in Italy have reportedly contracted the virus.
Thousands of additional workers attempting to treat the virus around the world have also fallen ill, with lack of adequate PPE often cited as a factor in the workers becoming infected.
In the United States, which now leads the world with over 100,000 cases, health care workers have noted an increasingly urgent need for additional PPE. Production of the supplies cannot keep up with the requirements of often overwhelmed hospitals and medical facilities, and the shortages have likely been made worse by members of the public buying up the needed supplies to hoard for themselves.
Doctors across the U.S. have been infected with COVID 19 but to date no deaths has been reported. Although, one death has been reported of a nurse in New York City.
Industry and individuals have attempted to address the situation by producing additional supplies of PPE. Efforts to make the equipment thorough 3D printing have met with mixed results, while major companies have offered to convert factories to produce medical supplies other needed equipment like ventilators during the pandemic
Fanatics, manufacturer of official uniforms for Major League Baseball, announced Thursday that they had begun producing makeshift masks and hospital gowns at their factory in Pennsylvania, in an effort to help health care workers without adequate PPE supplies.
In addition to the direct impact on doctors and other health care workers who become infected, public health experts have warned that a shortage of medical professionals could have a detrimental knock-on effect to members of the public who may need treatment as the pandemic continues to rapidly spread.
Newsweek reached out to the American Medical Association for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.