• Melo Acuna

Filipino healthcare workers in the frontlines of UK's and Ireland's fight vs COVID-19

Thousands of Filipino health care workers now UK and Ireland frontlines vs COVID-19

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs today said about 23,000 Filipinos are in the front lines of the United Kingdom’s and Ireland’s fight against the dreaded COVID-19 as both countries reported cases during the year’s first quarter.

Citing a statement from the Philippine Embassy in London, a 2019 report released by the National Health Service (NHS), Filipinos comprise around 19,000 of all the NHS staff belong to the largest groups of health workers, third to those who are identified as British and Indians. Over in Ireland, about 4,300 Filipino nurses form part of the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) 65,000-strong health care workforce.

“Even with personal protective equipment (PPEs), there is still that feeling of vulnerability for myself, our patients and our loved ones, colleagues, and our families. The traditional nurse-patient relationship has changed as the anxiety is not more from the persons and their loved ones getting care but from the key workers as well in these unprecedented times. How we are still able to show resilience, care, and reassurance is beyond me,” said Katrina Albarico, a nurse in Belfast, Northern Ireland as quoted by the Philippine Embassy.

Piers Morgan, a British broadcaster described Filipino health workers as “amazing” and “unsung heroes” and “immigrants currently saving people’s lives.”

Behind all these, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the Philippine Embassy in London recorded 10 COVID-19-related deaths among Filipino front liners in the National Health Service while nobody has died among Filipino health workers in Ireland as of April 14.

Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio M. Lagdameo said he is saddened by reports about Filipinos who were either infected or have succumbed to COVID-19.

“Filipino health workers have served tirelessly and courageously at the front lines of the war against this pandemic, and their contribution to thee ongoing efforts to save lives is nothing but immense,” Ambassador Lagdameo said.

While its frontline consular services has been temporarily suspended due to measures implemented by the host government, the Embassy’s Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) team works to respond to inquiries and assist distressed Filipinos, especially those infected with COVID-19.

According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas records, land-based Filipinos in Ireland sent US$14,514 million while land-based Filipinos in the United Kingdom remitted US$ 1.244 billion last year. (Melo M. Acuña)

Philippine Embassy in London. (PhilEmb. in the United Kingdom Facebook photo)

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