Coronavirus: Come for our visa now, U.S. tells foreign doctors

By Amara Christa

The United States has appealed to medical professionals across the world to file for work visas in a passionate appeal for help to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The appeal, published on the Department of State’s website Thursday night, highlighted that medical experts looking to move to the U.S. or visit on an exchange programme should waste no time in reaching out.

“We encourage medical professionals seeking to work in the United States on a work or exchange visitor,” the statement said, “particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to reach out to the nearest embassy or consulate to request a visa appointment.”

The announcement underscores the steep challenge assailing the Trump administration in its effort to arrest the spread of a virus that has killed more than 1,000 Americans and left nearly 90,000 infected in recent weeks.

The directive did not discriminate against any country, marking a sharp break away from the country’s antagonistic approach towards immigration.

Only a few weeks ago, the Trump administration adopted a controversial policy that tightened requirements for professionals seeking to move into the country. Nigeria was amongst the list of countries whose citizens were affected by the policy, which did not give exception to medicine or other professions.

But as the coronavirus cases continue to build across U.S. cities, the government appears to be seeing a new reality. Earlier this week, America surpassed China and Italy to become the country with the highest number of COVID-19 infections, affecting more than 85,000 as of Friday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.

President Donald Trump has faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic, with doctors and local administrators complaining of lack of vital medical equipment, especially protective kits and ventilators.

Mr Trump has pushed back against the criticism, saying he should be praised for ramping up testing amongst the population. He also said the country’s strategic medical equipment stockpile had not been exhausted, and that manufacturers have been asked to ramp up production.

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