Philippines suspends deployment of health workers abroad to fight COVID-19

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2020 03:55 PM | Updated as of Apr 10 2020 06:14 PM

A health care worker carries documents inside a free shuttle provided by the government during the lockdown imposed on Luzon due to the COVID-19 epidemic on March 30, 2020. Even as government agencies and other groups provide free rides to frontliners in the fight against the virus, health workers are often faced with problems getting to their destinations because of a lack of transportation. Basilio H. Sepe, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines suspended the deployment of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers abroad to preserve its frontline force against the COVID-19 pandemic, the overseas job-matching office said.

The ban aims to "prioritize human resource allocation for the national health care system at the time of the national state of emergency," the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said in a memorandum.

The moratorium took effect on April 2, said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido Dulay.

Workers covered by the deployment ban are the following: 

• Medical doctor/physician
• Nurse
• Microbiologist
• Molecular biologist
• Medical technologist
• Clinic analyst
• Respiratory therapist
• Pharmacist
• Laboratory technician
• X-ray/ radiologic technician
• Nursing assistant/nursing aid
• Operator of medical equipment
• Supervisor of health services and personal care
• Repairman of medical-hospital equipment

The POEA board also suspended negotiations of bilateral labor agreements for government to government deployment of health care workers "until the duration of the national state of emergency."

The ban on deployment will take effect "until COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries," the resolution read. 

At least 252 health workers in the Philippines have contracted COVID-19, 152 of whom are doctors while 63 are nurses, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

As of Thursday, the Philippines tallied 4,076 COVID-19 cases, including 203 deaths, and 124 recoveries.