Doctors are stripping down to expose a major problem with Germany’s coronavirus response: They feel naked on the job without the masks, gloves and goggles they need to stay safe during the pandemic.
German health-care workers have banded together in a movement called Blanke Bedenken, or Naked Concerns, to demand more personal protective equipment (PPE) so they can stay healthy while treating patients with COVID-19.
“To treat you safely, we and our team need protective equipment,” they write on the group’s website. “When we run out of what little we have, we look like this,” they add, above a gallery of photos.
The photos show doctors of various ages in different medical settings, with stethoscopes around their necks and other items carefully positioned to cover their genitals.
“The nudity is a symbol of how vulnerable we are without protection,” Dr. Ruben Bernau, a member of the group, told Germany’s Aerztezeitung newspaper.
The group, which is composed largely of family doctors, is encouraging other health-care workers to send in their own photos to be added to the gallery.
One photograph shows a doctor holding a sign that says she was “trained to sew up wounds.”
The sign asks: “Why am I now sewing my own face mask?”
The group says it got the nude photo idea from a doctor named Alain Colombie, a 61-year-old who posed naked to demand more PPE in France last month. Colombie wore an armband in the photos with the message “cannon fodder” written on it.
The German movement is calling for people to sign a petition demanding more PPE from government leaders.
The world is still grappling with a shortage of PPE, despite recent efforts to ramp up supply for front-line health-care workers. Germany says it has increased production to try to meet demand, but the supply still hasn’t fully caught up.
Germany has reported more than 159,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 6,000 deaths since the outbreak began. The nation has also managed to flatten its curve and reduce the rate of new infections since they peaked in late March and early April.
Nevertheless, the virus has not been wiped out in the country, and doctors are still the first line of defence. That’s why groups like Blanke Bedenken are willing to strip down to get some help.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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