Leo Varadkar reportedly re-registered as a medical practitioner with Ireland's Health Service Executive in March and will be working one shift a week

By Eric Todisco
April 07, 2020 12:38 PM
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Ireland’s leader, Leo Varadkar, is temporarily returning to his medical career to help combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, his office confirmed to multiple outlets.

Varadkar, who worked as a doctor for seven years before his political career, reportedly re-registered as a medical practitioner with Ireland’s Health Service Executive in March and will be working one shift a week.

“Many of his family and friends are working in the health service. He wanted to help out even in a small way,” his spokesperson told Irish broadcaster RTE.

According to The Irish Times, Varadkar, 41, will be helping assess suspected coronavirus patients over the phone. Doctors in Ireland have asked people who believe they have been exposed to call and receive an initial assessment rather than go in person and risk infecting others.

Varadkar studied medicine and worked as a junior doctor in Dublin hospitals for several years before qualifying as a general practitioner in 2010. In 2013, he left the medical profession to join politics and had his name removed from Ireland’s medical registry that same year, ABC News reported.

Varadkar, who came out in 2015, is Ireland’s first and the world’s fourth openly-gay head of government. (His official title is Taoiseach, equivalent to prime minister.)

Leo Varadkar
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Ireland is under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning people in non-essential roles can only leave their house when necessary, such as grocery shopping, to attend medical appointments, take care of family or for “brief” exercise, CNN reported.

Public and private gatherings among people from different households are banned.

Earlier last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 travel notice — their highest alert level — to dozens of countries, including Ireland. The CDC recommended that anyone who had traveled to these countries to stay home, monitor their health and practice social distancing for 14 days.

According to the New York Times database, Ireland had at least 5,364 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 174 deaths as of Tuesday. Globally, there were over 1.3 million confirmed cases and at least 75,000 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.