Apr 5, 2020 - World

Irish prime minister returns to medicine to help with coronavirus crisis

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie/PA Images via Getty Images

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has rejoined Ireland's medical registry to work one shift a week for the Health Service Executive, which is responsible for providing health and personal social services to everyone living in the country, the Irish Times reports.

The big picture: In March, the HSE asked all health care professionals not working in the medical field to reregister to help with the crisis. Around 50,000 people applied in less than three days.

  • Varadkar, who was a general practitioner for seven years before leaving the profession for politics, will be conducting patient assessments over the phone, per the Times.
  • Varadkar's mother was a nurse, and his partner, his two sisters and their husbands all work in the medical field.
  • Ireland has more than 4,600 cases and at least 137 deaths from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The stress that the coronavirus pandemic is placing on medical resources has prompted communities around the world to call on volunteers to supplement the work of health care professionals.

  • In the U.K., 405,000 people volunteered to help the National Health Service fight the outbreak in less than 24 hours after the government put out a request.
  • In New York, the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S., Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's counting on 85,000 volunteers, including 22,000 from out of state, to assist with the growing number of patients. More than 6,000 mental health professionals are also volunteering to provide free services in New York.

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