MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Embassy in London has raised its concerns for the welfare of thousands of Filipino nurses in the United Kingdom after 20 of them have died amid the fight against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.
In a statement, the Philippine Embassy said it has brought to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK the concerns of Filipino health workers such as the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), especially for those who are assigned in COVID-19 wards.
“We are deeply concerned about the deaths of Filipino health workers who sacrificed their lives as the world continues to fight this vicious disease. They put their lives on the line so that others may heal, live, and be reunited with their loved ones,” Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo said.
As of April 20, around 20 Filipino healthcare workers in the UK have died due to the viral respiratory disease.
Majority of those who passed away worked in hospitals across England, which registered the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the UK at 93,030 out of 124,73 lab-confirmed cases and 14,828 out of 16,509 hospital deaths.
The embassy said the deaths of Filipino medical workers due to COVID-19 “have caused a stir among British society since it is well known that Filipinos represent the third biggest group of National Health Service (NHS) staff after the British and Indians.”
Citing a March 2019 report on the NHS’ workplace diversity, the embassy said that close to 19,000 Filipinos serve the UK’s public health system either as medical professionals such as nurses and allied health professionals or as support staff.
The embassy said that various independent fundraisers have been organized by friends and family of those who succumbed to the disease.
Other Filipino community organizations have also contributed to support those who continue to fight at the frontlines, including the provision of face masks and hot meals.
The embassy said its frontline consular services have been suspended but its consular section, as well as the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), continue to coordinate with Filipino community organizations in extending assistance and monitoring the condition of those severely affected by the disease.
The embassy also assured it is implementing measures that safeguard public health and that it will continue to render assistance to distressed Filipino citizens in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic.