Philippines Covid-19 cases total almost 1.35 million as govt allows more health workers are allowed to go abroad

A health worker prepares China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine inside a bus used as a mobile vaccination center in Taguig, Philippines on Friday, June 18, 2021. The Philippine president recently agreed to ease a pandemic regulation requiring people to wear face shields on top of masks in most public areas but health officials said they would appeal the decision as cases remain high in many areas. - AP

MANILA, June 18 (Agencies): The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Friday 6, 833 new Covid-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1, 346, 276.

The death toll climbed to 23, 385 after 110 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

The DOH said that 19, 719 health care workers, primarily nurses and physicians, have contracted the coronavirus, among which 100 frontline medical workers have succumbed to Covid-19.

The DOH tallied 720 deaths from June 1 to 14. It recorded the highest number of deaths in April, reporting 3, 563.

The Philippines, which has more than 110 million population, has tested more than 13 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

Meanwhile, local and international media reported that the Philippines has allowed more health workers to work abroad as it raised the annual deployment ceiling from 5, 000 to 6, 500.

"The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Thursday, June 17, 2021, increased the annual deployment ceiling of new hire healthcare workers (HCWs) for Mission Critical Skills (MCS) to 6, 500," announced Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Friday, June 18.

Those who can work abroad under the adjusted rules are health care workers who fall under MCS with perfected contracts as of May 31, Roque said.

Health care workers for overseas deployment under government-to-government labor agreements will not be counted in the new 6, 500-ceiling.

The new deployment ceiling is a far cry from the 10, 000 slots Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had said he would propose to the national pandemic task force. He had been mentioning the 10, 000-figure in media interviews since late last year.

After lobbying from nurses groups, Bello said he would ask the task force to allow 5, 000 more health workers to be deployed abroad in 2021 after the annual ceiling was reached in June.

The Philippines is one of the world's major sources of nurses. Filipino United Nurses told Reuters that at least 4, 000 nurses intending to work in Germany, the Middle East, Scotland, Japan, Singapore, the United States, and Australia were barred from leaving after the government's cap was reached. - Agencies

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