Sept. 3 (UPI) -- More front-line workers have died of COVID-19 in Mexico and the United States than any other nations, according to a report by Amnesty International Thursday.
Amnesty's report said at least 7,000 health workers worldwide have died so far, with Mexico and the United States combining to account for nearly one-third of that total. The report cites about 1,300 front-line worker deaths in Mexico and 1,100 in the United States.
The nations with the next-highest tolls are Britain (649), Brazil (634), Russia (631) and India (573).
"For over seven thousand people to die while trying to save others is a crisis on a staggering scale," Amnesty International Head of Economic and Social Justice Steve Cockburn said in a statement. "Every health worker has the right to be safe at work, and it is a scandal that so many are paying the ultimate price."
Cockburn called for "global cooperation to ensure all health workers are provided with adequate protective equipment, so they can continue their vital work without risking their own lives."
The human rights organization said many of the deaths in Mexico were among hospital cleaners, who are especially vulnerable to infection due to a lack of protective gear.
The Mexican government has insisted for months that hospital workers have enough protective equipment, but medics have staged several protests in Mexico City to display what they called substandard gear.
Officials at the Pan American Health Organization said this week health workers have so far accounted for one in every seven COVID-19 cases in the United States and Mexico.
"We have the highest number of healthcare workers infected in the world," organization Director Carissa Etienne said. "Our data shows that nearly 570,000 health workers across our region have fallen ill and more than 2,500 have succumbed to the virus."
Etienne said scarce supplies of protective equipment early in the pandemic and slow implementation of triage protocols later contributed to the high infection rate among front-line workers, as hospitals became overcrowded and exposed them to the virus.Sign up for our daily Top News Newsletter