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The COVID-19 pandemic: major risks to healthcare and other workers on the front line
  1. Malcolm R Sim
  1. Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Malcolm R Sim, School of Public Health and and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia; malcolm.sim{at}

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Since the first cluster of cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection was reported in Wuhan, China at the end of December 2019, reporting of cases has spread widely over the past 3 months to become a pandemic of crisis proportions and a rapidly increasing number of deaths, affecting virtually every country across the world. As of 30 March 2020, 724 000 cases have been reported globally, with almost 35 000 deaths. These numbers are accelerating, with a doubling about every 3–4 days. The spread outside China was initially to other countries in Asia, most notably the Republic of Korea, then to the Middle East, most notably Iran, then to southern Europe, most notably Italy and Spain, then further north in Europe, the UK and then to the most recent epicentre; the USA. At the time of writing, considerably fewer cases have been reported in many low-income and middle-income countries, such as in Africa, but numbers of cases and deaths are likely to rise sharply in these countries, especially where testing and healthcare facilities are limited.

While there has been regular tracking and reporting of total cases and deaths across the world, what is less well known is the contribution to these numbers from different types of workers through workplace exposure. Clearly, those workers involved in healthcare are at the front line in terms of risk of infection and death, …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.