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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Spanish health workers on the front line against COVID-19

Princess of Asturias Award for Concord 2020

Spanish health workers in direct contact with patients affected by COVID-19 form the front line in the fight against this disease in our country and have demonstrated a commendable level of professionalism and commitment since the commencement of this healthcare emergency. Exposed to a high, aggressive viral load, in the face of long working hours, sometimes without suitable equipment or material means, according to complaints from professional and trade union organizations in this sector, their unconditional dedication represents an exercise in exemplary citizenship and in their vocation to serve. With an outstanding spirit of personal sacrifice in support of public health and the well-being of society as a whole, they have become a symbol of the fight against the greatest global pandemic that has afflicted humanity in the last century.

The thousands of professional in public and private healthcare centres, as well as in other services, that have directly treated the infected patients and have carried out their work in the major focal points of the fight against the coronavirus disease offer an example of the most admirable of human values. From primary care centres to large hospital complexes, both public and private, this extensive group has placed itself at the forefront of a fight in which other organizations, enterprises and, in a very special way, the Army and the State Security Forces and Corps are also intensely involved. The efforts of Spanish health workers against COVID-19 have allowed a very high number of cases of infected patients and fatalities to be attended to, even carrying out, beyond their obligations, work of profound humanity when accompanying hospitalized patients and individuals whose relatives could not be present in their final hours of life. This responsibility has placed their own personal health at risk, to the point of being the group that has been most affected by the pandemic in our country, reaching the figures of more than 50,000 infected cases and more than 60 deceased, according to data provided by Spain’s Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Centre. Having emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, the COVID-19 disease, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation) in March and now affects more than six million people in over 180 countries. Within this context, Spain is one of the countries to have most virulently suffered its impact, with 239,479 patients diagnosed as of 1st June. The WHO itself has praised the work of Spanish health workers. Its director for Europe, the German Hans Klugge, has stated, with respect to the situation in Spain, that he felt “deeply impressed by the heroism of front-line workers”.

International media, such as The New York Times newspaper, have also highlighted the efforts of health workers in Spain and have emphasized their self-sacrifice in carrying out their duties. These accolades add to the recognition of Spanish society as a whole, which has offered them countless expressions of thanks and solidarity since the beginning of the crisis.

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