Date
20 September 2017
Nurses hold a vigil in New York to demand better safeguards against  infection from suspected Ebola patients. Photo: Reuters
Nurses hold a vigil in New York to demand better safeguards against infection from suspected Ebola patients. Photo: Reuters

US nurses strike over Ebola safeguards

Tens of thousands of nurses have staged protests and strikes across the United States to demand better protection against tne Ebola virus.

As many as 100,000 took part in the mass action, with the protesters accusing hospitals, clinics and other health services operators of not doing enough to ensure the safety of health workers dealing with patients possibly stricken with the deadly virus, Reuters reported Thursday. 

Ebola has killed 5,160, mostly in West Africa and infected an estimated 14,000, according to the World Health Organization.

The frequency of new cases no longer appears to be increasing in Guinea and Liberia but remains high in Sierra Leone.

California-based National Nurses United is embroiled in contract talks with the operators of nearly 90 California hospitals and clinics, and one hospital in Washington D.C.

About 19,000 nurses who began a two-day strike against those California facilities were part of the Ebola protest, which in other parts of the country did not involve nurses walking off the job.

Healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente, which operates most of the California facilities where the nurses were striking, has accused the union of using Ebola as a pretext for labor action.

The nurses are pressing hospitals to buy hazardous material suits which leave no skin exposed, as well as powered air-purifying respirators, to properly protect them from exposure.

Also, they are seeking more training to handle patients suspected of having Ebola.

Elsewhere, protests took place in Chicago, Oakland, and outside the offices of some state governors, the report said, citing National Nurses United executive director Rose Ann DeMoro.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it has ordered US$2.7 million worth of personal protective equipment to help hospitals care for Ebola patients but union officials said that is not enough.

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CG/RA

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