The Philippines has barred doctors, nurses and other health workers from leaving for overseas work as the nation seeks to stem the coronavirus outbreak, according to its immigration bureau.
The temporary halt follows an order of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration on April 2, immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said in mobile-phone message. It will last for the duration of the nation’s state of emergency, according to the employment administration order.
The Philippines, which sends thousands of medical practitioners to work overseas, must now reinforce a health care system overwhelmed by the pandemic and weakened by deaths and infection of more than 200 health workers.
The nation only has six doctors for every 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation, among the lowest in the region. Singapore’s ratio is almost 23 and Malaysia at 15.36.
The ban covers 12 other jobs including medical equipment operation and repair. More than 30,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians, carers left the Philippines in 2010, according to latest available data.
The Philippines had 4,076 coronavirus cases as of Thursday, with deaths reaching 203 including at least a dozen health workers.