Over 20,000 Filipinos in the United Kingdom and Ireland fight on the frontlines against COVID-19

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in London provided assistance to 253-member-OFWs affected by the pandemic, most especially those who contracted the virus and those who were displaced from their jobs due to the outbreak. (Photo from POLO-OWWA London Facebook Page)

From the very onset of COVID-19 cases rising in the United Kingdom and Ireland, over 23,000 Filipinos have been fighting on the frontlines.

According to a 2019 report published by the National Health Service (NHS), Filipinos are among the largest groups of NHS health workers—third only to those who identified as British and Indians. In total, Filipinos make up around 19,000 of all NHS staff. In Ireland, there are around 4,300 Filipino nurses of the Health Service Executive’s 65,000-strong health care work force.

“Even with personal protective equipment (PPEs), there is still that feeling of vulnerability for myself, our patients and their 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 Befast, Northern Ireland.

The efforts of Filipino frontliners in the UK and Ireland have not gone unnoticed—garnering high praise and gratitude from local British and Irish citizens.

“Amazing number of Filipinos working in the NHS and unsung heroes like so many. It’s worth bearing in mind when we talk about immigrants in this country, these are the immigrants currently saving people’s lives. Coming here and actually enriching our country and doing an amazing job,” said British broadcaster, Piers Morgan, who recognized the contribution of Filipinos in the NHS during a recent episode of Good Morning Britain.

Unfortunately, as COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom continue to rapidly escalate, as of April 14, the Philippine Embassy in London has recorded at least 10 COVID-19-related deaths among Filipino front liners in the NHS and zero reported deaths among Filipino frontliners in Ireland’s HSE.

“We are are deeply saddened by reports of Filipino staff who are either infected by COVID-19 or have succumbed to the disease. Our thoughts are with their loved ones. Filipino health workers have served tirelessly and courageously at the frontlines of the war against this pandemic, and their contribution to the ongoing effort to save lives is nothing but immense,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo.

Although the Philippine Embassy in London temporarily suspended its frontline consular services due to the urgent measures by the government to stop the spread of the disease, the Embassy’s Assistance-to-Nationals team is working tirelessly around the clock to respond to inquiries and to assist distressed Filipinos, especially those who are infected with COVID-19.

Stay updated with news and information from the Department of Foreign Affairs by visiting their website at https://www.dfa.gov.ph.

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