TO work in our hospitals, our clinics and our aged-care facilities is to be confronted with serious illness and death, sometimes on a daily basis.
It's part of the job.
Even those who care most deeply for their patients must put their emotions to one side, and move on to the next patient needing their skill and their dedication.
As coronavirus spreads around the world, health care workers are being pushed to their limits.
Not only must they cope with often enormous workloads, they must do so knowing that the protective equipment that they don each shift may be the only barrier between them and a disease that has killed more than 160,000 people worldwide from 2.3 million confirmed cases, a death rate of 6.9 per cent.
The Newcastle Herald, and the rest of Australian Community Media's news outlets, are formally thanking all healthcare workers for their individual and collective effort in helping battle this unexpected and deadly foe.
Interviewed today, John Hunter Hospital's head of intensive care, Dr Jorge Brieva, and nurse Jacqui Rodgers, are thankful that everyone - or almost everyone - has recognised the severity of the situation and accepted the strictures necessary to counter the virus.
Although each death is a tragedy, Australia is coping remarkably well.
With 6457 cases, so far, and 67 deaths, our fatality rate is just 1 per cent, or one person in 100.
In the US, with more than 735,287 cases at last count, 39,090 people have died, a rate of 5.3 per cent, or one death in 20 cases.
The UK has 15,498 deaths from 115,314 confirmed cases, a fatality rate of 13.4 per cent, or one in seven.
The differences are substantial.
Dr Brieva's hope is for COVID-19 to a "controllable illness" rather than a "fearful enemy".
But even if we do learn the "social responsibility" to keep the virus at bay, frontline healthcare workers will continue to bear a disproportionate degree of risk until a vaccine can be found.
In the US, Italy and Spain, healthcare workers are understood to comprise more than 10 per cent of diagnosed cases.
As Dr Brieva observes, history shows us that we do, eventually, beat the contagious illnesses that have caused humankind great pain and suffering.
In the meantime, we must all do what we can to ensure that we stay out of harm's way, and give thanks to those whose roles in life puts them perilously close to the virus.
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