How frontline medical staff celebrated International Nurses Day amid the coronavirus pandemic

As the world marks International Nurses Day, the impact of coronavirus is giving the day added meaning. 

Nurses at Cook Street Care Centre in Palmerston North are feeling the love as they celebrate. 

For the past few months, they've been on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19.

Clinical director Anna Blackwell says it's been a stressful time.

"The sacrifices and the fear have been the biggest thing for aged care workers," she told Newshub. 

Those sacrifices were recognised around the world on Tuesday - with portraits on the Eiffel Tower in Paris and tributes in China.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made special mention of Jenny from Invercargill who looked after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he had COVID-19.

"I want to acknowledge all the Jennies around the world," she said in her daily briefing. 

Treating patients with COVID-19 hasn't been without its risks - in New Zealand 173 healthcare workers have been infected with the virus, including 53 nurses.

Overseas it's claimed the lives of healthcare workers young and old.

The death toll is felt keenly by one aged care worker who lost two relatives in the Philippines - both of them doctors.

"It's quite heartbreaking that it doesn't choose who it infects," Brian Momongan told Newshub.

Paediatric nurse Beck Conway says COVID-19 has highlighted what it means to be a nurse.

"Even if you're feeling anxious you turn up, because that's what you signed up for," she said. 

That sacrifice has given International Nurse's Day special meaning this year.