New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 12 May 2020
On the International Day of the Nurse, NZNO is paying tribute to the 301 nurses from 32 countries who have died from their frontline work fighting COVID-19. This is the latest tally from Global Nurses United (GNU), but GNU Co-ordinator Ken Zinn says there are 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.
“But you all have done amazingly well in New Zealand – which is a credit to your union and your government.”
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku welcomed the comments.
“NZNO stands in solidarity with all our brothers and sisters worldwide; Kia kaha!”
NZNO is a member of both Global Nurses United and the International Council of Nurses, and Ms Nuku said a small silver lining on the worldwide pandemic is that nursing is the most connected it has ever been globally.
“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.”
She said a small local example was New Zealand sharing a candlelight vigil with nurses in Eastern Australia, with nursing groups in both countries sharing video of the vigil on their social media pages at the same time (9pm in New Zealand). This will follow a New Zealand only candlelit vigil starting at 7pm.
“We have been incredibly fortunate that we have not lost any nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. A small number have been hospitalised, and the one remaining in hospital now appears to be improving.
“While the vigils are about nurses and communities standing in solidarity, they are also about remembering the nurses who have died overseas and our own nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kai mahi hauora who have also given much,” Ms Nuku said.
She said that though Aotearoa New Zealand had not lost nurses to COVID-19, a lot had still gone wrong and that so many nurses here contracting the virus or having to go into isolation.
“When the COVID-19 dust has settled we will be calling for an investigation into why, despite impressive control planning at a government level, things went so badly wrong for so many nursing staff in their places of work.”
Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.