More than a hundred nurses and midwives from across Australia and New Zealand joined an online vigil last night in honour of their colleagues from around the world who have lost their lives to COVID-19.
Reports from Global Nurses United (GNU), estimate over 300 nurses in 32 countries have died due to the virus to date.
The three minute vigil streamed via social media, featured images of nurses and midwives, joined by healthcare workers, union officials and politicians holding lit candles and messages of respect and support to commemorate the dedication of their lost colleagues.
Accompanying the commemoration, musicians Vika and Linda Bull performed Amazing Grace which was recorded especially for the event.
Organised by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), the vigil streamed to coincide with International Nurses Day.
Over 74,000 viewers from around the world tuned into the stream, many posting messages of heartfelt thanks and uploading images of candle to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice the nurses had made.
ANMF federal Secretary Annie Butler praised the extraordinary effort from nurses to care for the community at this time.
“Yet, sadly, this has come at considerable cost, with hundreds of nurses around the world losing their lives to COVID-19,” she said.
“ We have been very fortunate in this regard in Australia, but we want to honour the sacrifice of our global nursing colleagues on this IND.”
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said New Zealand was also fortunate to not have lost any nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. A small silver lining on the worldwide pandemic was that nursing has become the most connected it has ever been globally. An example of this was sharing the vigil with Australia at the same time, Ms Nuku said.
“Wherever we are on the planet, we have all faced the same issues, made the same sacrifices and shared the same courage. It is an absolute tragedy that so many of us have fallen, but we are united and we are strong, both locally and in an international sense.”
On tallying the number of nurses who have died fighting COVID-19, GNU coordinator Ken Zinn says there were likely to be many more.
“I want to stress that these are just the names that we could find. Undoubtedly there are others who are still unaccounted for,” he said.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) believes these current figures could be a serious underestimation and is calling on governments across all countries to immediately start keeping accurate records of infections and deaths among healthcare workers. The ICN says in not doing so increases the chances of more deaths and fails to honour those who have died.
Click here to view the stream.