The Philippine Embassy in London has brought to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) the concerns of Filipino nurses in the UK such as the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), especially for those who are assigned at the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) wards.
As of 20 April, no less than 20 Filipino healthcare workers have perished in the UK's fight against the COVID-19, based on COVID-19 deaths reported to the Philippine Embassy in London. The figure represents around 50% of at least 50 Filipinos--by citizenship or ethnicity--who died of the disease, including three (3) who are undocumented immigrants.
The deaths of the Filipino healthcare 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. According to a March 2019 report on the NHS' workplace diversity, 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.
Various independent fundraisers have been organised by the friends and family of those who succumbed to the disease while several other Filipino community organizations are contributing in different ways to support those who continue to fight at the frontlines. These efforts include the provision of face masks as well as hot meals.
“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,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo.
Majority of those who died worked in hospitals across England, which as of 20 April 2020, also registers 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 .
Despite the suspension of frontline consular services, the Embassy's consular section as well as the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) continue to coordinate closely with Filipino community organizations in extending assistance and monitoring the condition of those severely affected by the onslaught of the disease. The Embassy has also adopted measures to safeguard public health while at the same time to render critical assistance-to-nationals services to distressed Filipino citizens in light of the global pandemic. END