More healthcare workers cleared to work abroad

President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed more Filipino health workers to work abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang announced Monday.

Health professionals with complete employment documents as of Aug. 31, 2020, are already allowed to leave the country, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

"The health professionals with complete documentation as of Aug. 31, 2020 were already allowed by the President to leave for work abroad,” he said.

Senator Joel Villanueva thanked the President for heeding the appeal of the healthcare workers.  

“It is a win for our healthcare workers who have been suffering from the travel ban, which was instituted in April with the good intention of ensuring available manpower during the height of the pandemic,” Villanueva said.

Earlier, Senator Christopher Go appealed to the government on behalf of the affected nurses and other medical professionals to grant more exemptions to the temporary deployment ban imposed on them.

Meanwhile, Malaysia will now allow professional and visit-pass holders from the Philippines to enter the country as long as they get a travel approval from Malaysian immigration authorities, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

The entry ban was imposed by Malaysia on 23 countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases, including the Philippines, on Sept. 7.

Previously, only healthcare workers with employment contracts as of March 8, 2020, were allowed to work abroad as the Philippines, a key exporter of nurses and other medical workers, sought to keep a reserve force in its battle against the pandemic.

The Philippines initially suspended the deployment of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers abroad on April 2. 

The ban sought 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.

But Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III later sought the exemption of nurses and health workers with signed contracts as of last month.

The Philippines has logged a total of 286,743 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, and of which 51,894 are active infections. 

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Filipino health workers , COVID-19 pandemic , Joel Villanueva
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