Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks during the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the Rayburn Room of U.S. Capitol March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Getty—Alex Wong
April 6, 2020 10:59 AM EDT

Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister, has rejoined the country’s medical register and will begin working one shift a week, as the country grapples with a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

The Health Service Executive (HSE), the country’s health and social service provider, appealed to all non-working healthcare professionals on March 17 to “be on call for Ireland,” amid a rising demand for health services. Professionals from all healthcare disciplines have been asked to register in case the government needs additional staff to work in either new or pre-existing medical facilities. Retired healthcare providers as well as medical students were also encouraged to sign up. Within three days of the HSE’s announcement, 50, 000 former healthcare professional registered, including Ireland’s leader.

Varadkar will assist in conducting phone assessments of people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, joining his parents, sisters and partner who all work for health services.

Varadkar worked as a junior doctor in Dublin for seven years before turning to politics. In 2013, he was taken off the medical register a year before he was appointed Ireland’s Minister for Health.

Ireland has at least 4, 994 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 158 people have died. The country has been under lockdown since March 28 and will remain so until April 19. Citizens can only leave home for essential work, to buy necessary supplies, to exercise or care for the vulnerable. Anyone who violates lockdown can be fined €2,500 ($2696) and jailed for six months.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories

EDIT POST