The Philippines’ ambassador to the UK has called for key workers to be “properly protected”, as figures suggests Filipinos may have had the highest death rate of frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Two workers from Watford General Hospital, John Alagos and Ate Wilma, are among the 23 Filipino frontline workers in the UK who died with Covid-19.

Elma Cavalida, 49, a maternity assistant at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow who died on April 26, is also from the Philippines.

According to tributes issued by hospital trusts, there have been a confirmed total of 173 frontline health and care workers in the UK who died with the virus.

This means 13 per cent of the workers who died were of Filipino heritage and has caused some alarm to key representatives.

Now the Philippines’ ambassador, Antonio Lagdameo, is among a group of Filipinos asking that frontline workers from the Philippines are looked after.

Mr Lagdameo said: “I urge the NHS to ensure that those heroes who put their lives on the line for all of us are properly protected and equipped as they do their job.”

Francis Fernando, a nurse and officer for the Filipino Nurses Association UK, said he believes more of his compatriots have died working in the UK health and care system during the crisis than in the Philippines.

While a lack of reliable data makes it difficult to prove definitively, Mr Fernando believes the community has suffered more deaths in Britain’s health and care sector than any other ethnic group.

Official figures indicate that around 18,500 Filipinos worked in the NHS in England as of March 2019, roughly 1.5 per cent of an estimated 1.2 million total workforce.

The vast majority of those workers were in nursing or clinical support positions, with the Philippines providing more staff in these roles than any other country outside the UK.

Mr Fernando said: “There must be something in our culture that prevents us from speaking out or we feel that we just have to follow the manager’s requests, that we cannot say no.

“That’s true to the new Filipinos who have arrived here in the UK. Twenty years ago, I was like them.”

Mr Fernando, who worked for 19 years in the NHS before moving to a private care home in London, added that the Filipino Nurses Association had heard “a lot of anecdotal stories about BAME staff being hand-picked to work in Covid wards, again without adequate protection”.

He said: “Few of the BAME (black and minority ethnic) staff will say ‘no, it’s our job, we have a duty of care to our patients as nurses and professionals’. So, unfortunately, they are being put in harm’s way.”

John Alagos was 23 when he died on April 3 after falling ill during a 12-hour shift at the hospital.

His mother found her son unconscious in his bedroom after the shift, and he was later confirmed dead.

Wilma Bannaag, also known as Ate Wilma, was described as hard working “up to her last days” and died on April 17 after contracting the virus.

At the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, there have been confirmed five workers who contracted the virus and died.

Central booking team employee Sharad Bhatt, healthcare assistant Khalid Jamil and housekeeper Momudou Dibba were also BAME employees who died.

There have been calls for a public inquiry into the number of deaths among black and minority ethnic (BAME) workers from Covid-19, after official statistics showed people from some minority backgrounds were at greater risk of dying after contracting the virus.

The NHS has introduced risk assessments for all BAME staff in the wake of the concerns and is working with organisations such as Mr Fernando’s to allay fears among staff.

However, he still believes that many are not putting official guidance into effect, with the group informed of several cases of vulnerable workers being put in high-risk situations by their managers.

In one case, Mr Fernando said he had spoken with a worker in an oncology ward near Covid patients, who had been told to continue working despite being almost seven months pregnant.

He added that it was even more difficult to ensure proper practice in private care homes, citing another example of a nurse with cancer who was told she would be unpaid if she stopped working.