In addition to gruelling long hours and massive risks at their jobs, health care workers are having to face physical confrontations from panicked citizens across the United Kingdom. On Sunday, a National Health Service staff member was attacked outside a hospital. The NHS worker ended up with a fractured cheekbone. Another NHS worker was spat at by a stranger while on her way home last Wednesday. All the attacks have led to health care workers being asked to hide their badges and not wear their uniforms out in public.

On Thursday, as the UK applauded the service of the front-line workers, nurses received an advisory email. The email instructed nurses to not wear their uniforms to and from hospitals. Nurses have been asked to use their uniforms only inside hospitals due to an increase in violence against health care workers.

An unnamed NHS staff member in his 50s was at Salford Royal Infirmary in Manchester when the homeless man attacked him at around 1:50 pm yesterday. Greater Manchester Police arrested 27-year-old suspect, Daniel Shevlin ,who will be appearing at Salford Magistrates' Court. Shevlin has been charged with Section 20 assault and Section 4a of the Public Order Act.

The Sun reported that the NHS staff suffered facial injuries. He was admitted to the hospital where he received treatment for a fractured cheekbone.

Before the attack on Sunday, a 33-year-old employee of The Christie Hospital in Manchester was attacked on her way home on Wednesday. Following a long 10-hour shift, Sama Shali was walking to a tram station in West Didsbury at around 6pm. A man on a bike passed by and spat on her twice. Greater Manchester Police are trying to track down Shali's assailant. Shali is worried about being infected by the novel coronavirus due to the attack.

There have also been multiple cases where health care workers had their identification badges snatched.

Panicked citizens are targeting police officers and health care workers who are trying their best to slow down the COVID-19 outbreak. While police officers have the option of subduing and arresting any aggressive individual, fatigued NHS staff members have become soft targets for thugs.

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NHS staff asked to hide ID badges and told not to wear uniforms to and from work. Photo: AFP / ISABEL INFANTES