Philippines’ Duterte eases overseas travel ban on health workers

Healthcare workers from the Philippines are on the front lines of the pandemic at hospitals in the US, Europe and the Middle East as well as at home. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 21 September 2020

Philippines’ Duterte eases overseas travel ban on health workers

  • Thousands of health workers, who call themselves ‘priso-nurses,’ had appealed to the government to let them travel
  • Philippines has the highest number of recorded coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia

MANILA: The Philippines’ president has eased an overseas travel ban on Filipino nurses and other medical workers to allow more to take jobs abroad, his spokesman said on Monday, as his government believes it has its coronavirus outbreak under control.
Thousands of health workers, who call themselves “priso-nurses,” had appealed to the government to let them travel, Reuters reported last week. The nurses say they feel underpaid, under-appreciated and unprotected in the Philippines.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved the proposal of the labor ministry to expand exemptions from the ban to those who had overseas contracts and complete documents as of Aug. 31, spokesman Harry Roque told a regular briefing.
So far only those with contracts as of March 8 have been allowed to travel.
Roque said the president’s decision would benefit 1,500 health personnel.
“These are nurses who already spent a lot (of money) processing their papers. They are not that many so we allowed them to leave,” Roque said.
Healthcare workers from the Philippines are on the front lines of the pandemic at hospitals in the United States, Europe and the Middle East as well as at home.
Duterte’s government in April barred nurses, doctors and other medical workers from leaving, saying they were needed to fight the coronavirus crisis in the Philippines, which is still tackling its first wave of infections.
The country has the highest number of recorded coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia with 286,743 cases. Its 4,984 deaths are second only to Indonesia.
But Roque insisted there was no reason to panic and said: “We are in control.”
“We know the enemy and we know how to fight the enemy through isolation, tracing and treatment,” Roque added.


Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

Updated 24 October 2020

Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

  • There has been an upsurge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country
  • The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict

KABUL: A suicide bomber struck near an education centre in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least 18 people in the latest attack to rock the conflict-wracked country.
Violence on the ground has spiked in recent weeks despite the Taliban and the Afghan government holding peace talks in Qatar to end the country's grinding war.
The suicide attack, which also wounded 57, happened late afternoon at the centre, which offers training and courses for students in higher education in a western district of Kabul.
"A suicide bomber wanted to enter the education centre," Tareq Arian, spokesman for the interior ministry, said in a statement.
"But he was identified by the centre's guards after which he detonated his explosives in an alley."
He said the attack had left at least 18 people dead and 57 wounded.
"I was standing about 100 metres from the centre when a big blast knocked me down," said local resident Ali Reza, who had gone to hospital with his cousin who was wounded in the blast.
"Dust and smoke was all around me. All those killed and wounded were students who wanted to enter the centre."
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.
Residents in several districts of western Kabul belong to the minority Shiite Hazara community, often targeted by Daesh militants. 
In the past, extremists have targeted several education centres and other facilities in the area.
In May, a group of gunmen launched a brazen daylight attack on a hospital in west Kabul that left several mothers dead. The gunmen were shot dead after hours of fighting with security forces.