COVID-19 Focus Opened Door to Other Illnesses

Drug-resistant bacteria and fungi have grown opportunistically in health care settings

January 29, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of operations in healthcare facilities as managers and front-line workers sought to handle the surges of patients battling the illness. The focus on COVID-19, however, might have created opportunities for other infections and illnesses.

As the pandemic took over in 2020, hospitals and nursing homes used and reused scarce protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns — to help prevent the airborne transfer of the virus.

But it also appears to have helped spread a different set of germs — drug-resistant bacteria and fungi — that have used the chaos of the pandemic to grow opportunistically in health care settings around the globe, according to The New York Times.

These bacteria and fungi, like Covid-19, prey on older people, the infirm and those with compromised immune systems. They can cling tenaciously to clothing and medical equipment, which is why nursing homes and hospitals before the pandemic were increasingly focused on cleaning rooms and changing gowns to prevent their spread.

That emphasis all but slipped away amid an all-consuming focus on the coronavirus. In fact, experts warn, the changes in hygiene and other practices caused by the Covid-19 fight are likely to have contributed to the spread of these drug-resistant germs.

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