MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday reiterated the call for nurses affected by the deployment ban to help in attending to COVID-19 patients on the local front, saying only 25 of them have signed up.

In a press briefing, Duque noted that while some 1,000 nurses were stopped from leaving the country to work abroad, only 25 applied for the DOH’s emergency hiring program for health human resources (HHR).

“I am appealing to our nurses. I appeal to the sense of nationalism, to the sense of patriotism of every healthcare worker, we are still in war. We are in World War C and we need to work together to win,” Duque said.

In April, the government suspended deployment of some medical professionals abroad due to the dwindling manpower in local hospitals as a result of the rising cases of COVID-19.

But Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of the Filipino Nurses United, said there is no need for the government to hold back nurses, especially those who already have employment contracts abroad.

She said there are many registered unemployed or under employed nurses who can be hired to work in local hospitals, explaining that most of the nurses affected by the ban have secured loans or sold properties just to be able to work abroad to help their families.