Nurse fears she may have infected 40


An in-home nurse fears she may have infected up to 40 people with coronavirus after treating a positive patient without protective gear.

The Victorian healthcare worker didn't find out the man she treated had the virus after a week later, after which she'd already made multiple visits to many other homes.

The 58-year-old told the ABC she fears the lengthy delay between her first patient's positive diagnosis and her receiving the test could have put others in the community at risk.

"I have been in people's homes every day - vulnerable people in society. Elderly people, people with lots of co-morbidities and lots of health issues," she said.

The woman said she visited the man to change a dressing and noticed he was suffering respiratory problems. She immediately called emergency services.

Paramedics arrived in full hazmat suits to take the man to hospital, but because she wasn't showing symptoms, the nurse was not allowed to be tested.

Instead, she has been told to self-isolate, and now does not know if she has the virus or if she potentially passed it onto anyone else.

"The criteria (for testing) are quite strict at the moment and they said unless I'm showing symptoms just go home and isolate," she said.

"If I am positive, by the time they then find those people it's weeks after the fact, so how many others have been in contact [with them] in the interim?

"It's just ludicrous."

The Australian College of Nursing has slammed the lack of support for health workers.

Yesterday it released a statement calling for greater protections and more protective equipment.

"Thousands of nurses on health's frontline are being put at risk every minute of every day as they care for Australians during the COVID-19 crisis due to the Government's failure to provide them with access to personal protective equipment (PPE)," it said.

"With Australians being asked to stay at home and avoid going to hospitals if possible, we need these dedicated nurses more than ever. It is appalling that they have been overlooked when it comes to provision of PPE."

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