By Roy Lagarde

A church official has paid tribute to the country’s health workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that they are “the face of Jesus” to all the sick, according to CBCP News.

Archbishop Socrates of Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan has taken to social media on Thursday to post a tribute to healthcare workers in the midst of the crisis.

In a video message, he said: “To all those caring for the sick, you become the face of Jesus to them. Jesus in the sick and Jesus in you, you meet together caring for each other”.

At one point of his video, the archbishop was seen holding back his tears as he recalled Pope John Paul II’s encounter with the lepers during his visit to Manila in 1981.

The pope, the archbishop said, wanted to see the lepers at the Tala Leprosarium but was not allowed.

Instead, he said that the lepers were brought to an auditorium of Radio Veritas in Fairview, Quezon City where the pope had an activity.

“After the program, when the pope saw the lepers at the backstage, he knelt down and kissed the first leper and whispered to him, ‘My Lord, my Lord!’” recalled Villegas.

As frontliners in the fight against coronavirus, the archbishop said that healthcare professionals and other hospital workers are also “taking care of Jesus”.

“And we can never pay the love and service that you have given us,” Villegas said.

“There are many reasons to be afraid but there are also many reasons to be joyful because you are serving God. And you are Jesus to us all,” he said.

Nine doctors have died due to the coronavirus in the Philippines, as hospitals were overwhelmed with more patients than they can feasibly treat.

Healthcare workers in hospitals have also been voicing frustration and fear over the lack of protection on the frontlines of the fight against the deadly virus.

As of March 26, the Department of Health confirmed 71 new coronavirus cases in the country, bringing the total to 707.

Seven more people have died from the disease, bringing the death toll to 45, the DOH said.

With two more patients who have recovered from the disease, the number of recoveries jumped to 28.

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