The number of doctors and nurses who contract Covid-19 through their jobs should be formally recorded and included in official updates, a union says.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), the union for senior doctors says it is being done in other countries with coronavirus,
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Figures from Spain last week showed that out of its 40,000 Covid-19 cases, almost 5400 or 14 per cent have been health care staff.

The death rate among doctors and nurses was also being recorded.


According to reports this week, 51 medical staff in New Zealand have caught Covid-19, about one third had recently been overseas.

ASMS executive director Sarah Dalton said the number who had contracted it through clinical work was not clear.

"Tracking how many healthcare workers get Covid-19 is critical as they are both in high demand and at risk of high infection."

"Having an official subset of data around infection figures for our medical staff would be useful at both a national, DHB and community level.

"We know that healthcare workers are at greater risk. We are relying on them and it's essential for them not only to be safe, but to feel safe."

Hundreds of healthcare workers have died from Covid-19 around the world, including at least 60 doctors in Italy alone.

New Zealand has Covid-19 case breakdowns and analysis on a range of criteria, but it does not include health care workers.

"It would be beneficial to be able to answer questions around when, where and how transmission occurs in different health settings, and whether there are any gaps in protection," Dalton said.


Overseas experience has also shown that in areas of major outbreak, details on frontline infection rates have helped officials with workforce planning and response, she said.

"When doctors and nurses fall sick, the stress on the healthcare system will increase.

"As a result, we would like the Ministry of Health to start collecting infection data and reporting it as part of the daily national updates and for DHBs to keep a breakdown of staff groups which are affected," she said.

Personal protective equipment (PPE), which helps protect healthcare workers from being infected, has been a source of contention for many frontline workers who say they haven't been able to get enough or have been charged a lot more for it.

Last month the union called for people to stop stealing the gear, including masks, gloves and gowns, from hospitals. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website