By Alyssa-Victoria Isip

Covid-19 was first documented in the UK on the 28th February. By 1st March, the virus has quickly spread leaving this to be a global pandemic. This has left the world shook and uncertain of what the future holds. 

Blindly, a lot of us in the world were going on with their daily lives and not acknowledging the fact the virus would eventually turn into an epidemic. The numbers keep rising and those lives that are crucially most at stake are the NHS workers. The percentage of deaths currently sits at 19% and 100 health and social care workers have believed to have been infected and died of the virus, according to Nursing Notes, a medical site which tracks down NHS staff deaths.

It has been estimated that 19,000 health and social care workers working in the NHS are of Philippine heritage. Many of these NHS workers are at higher risk of catching the virus due to being in physical contact with infected patients. Mr.Mangalile, who works as consul general for the Philippine embassy has stated that the “Embassy has received complaints from nurses who say the personal protective equipment (PPE) they have issued is inadequate for what they need to do their job.” When will this change?

Reports have shown to believe that as many as 29 people from the Philippines or with Filipino heritage have passed. This includes Grenfell Tower fire survivor Virgilio Castro, formally known as “Larry”, 64 who had survived the tragedy in 2017, has reported to have passed on 9th April.

Other Filipino victims of the COVID-19 in the UK, such as Larni Zuniga, 54, a senior care home nurse who had tragically passed away on the 24th April due to the virus, after spending 3 weeks in intensive care at St.Thomas hospital. Larni Zuniga’s daughter, Mutya Zuniga-Paulo said “He left the Phillippines to work in order to give us a better life. He was working hard to save money to help my mum with her papers so they could be together. My dad died being a hero.” This is the sad truth for a lot of Filipino’s that leave the Philippines, in order to support their families back home and give them a better quality of life.

Emily Barramedia of the UFG (United Filipino) states “Like so many others, we don’t know what is happening and it’s hard in some cases not to believe that there is also some discrimination. In some hospitals where there is a British person who is positive with COVID-19 and a Filipino one… it seems they will choose to prioritise the British one.” When are we going to acknowledge that covid-19 is killing our community? Filipino NHS workers sacrifice their lives to help patients infected by the virus only to not be prioritised when infected themselves.

How much longer will this go on and what is the government going to do to ensure that our NHS is safe from this virus? The NHS England has released new data revealing that over 16% of covid-19 victims in the UK are BAME people. 53 NHS staff known to have died in the pandemic so far were 68% BAME, according to the Guardian’s data. Currently, in the UK there are over 200,000 Filipino’s and out of that number 18,500 work within the NHS health and social care services, according to the house of commons library data from 2019, making them the most frequent nationality working in the NHS after Britons and Indians. 

Let’s come together as a community and acknowledge that people are putting their lives on the line for us every day to keep us safe and we need to keep them safe by staying at home.

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