The Philippines on Friday barred medical professionals from going overseas as part of efforts to bolster its health care system against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration banned exit and outbound travel of health care workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The ban aims to prioritize human resource allocation for the national health care system at the time of the national state of emergency,” the order added.

Health officials confirmed 21 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, bringing the total to 221.

It added that 119 new cases were identified, with 4,195 in all. Some 140 people have recovered

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