President Rodrigo Duterte will be tested for the potentially deadly COVID-19 after taking meetings with Cabinet officials who were reportedly exposed to someone who has been infected, his former aide Senator Christopher “Bong” Go announced early this morning.
In a statement, Go said that he will also take the test today, along with the president, and assured the public that both of them are not displaying flu-like symptoms.
“We are doing this to ensure that we are fit and healthy to engage the public and perform our duties in the coming days and weeks. As always, the President and I remain ready to serve and die for the Filipino people,” Go said.
“Considering that some Cabinet members we engage with regularly have been exposed to individuals who were tested positive of COVID-19 and have decided to undergo self-quarantine, it is just prudent for us to take precautionary measures in compliance with the advice of our health officials,” Go added.
The news comes after Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez announced they would go into self-quarantine after learning they came into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, ABS-CBN News reports. It’s unclear how and where they came into contact with the person.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that several areas within Malacañang Palace will be disinfected, and added that they will consider asking Palace employees to work from home.
Earlier this week, Duterte played down the seriousness of the virus, saying he will continue to shake people’s hands despite being told not to do so by his security team. Ever a fatalist, he said: “I’m telling you when God calls me right now, I will go.”
Meanwhile, senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay announced that they too will go into self-quarantine after learning that one of their aides in a four-hour Senate hearing they conducted on March 5 had tested positive of COVID-19.
“Though I am asymptomatic and feel healthy, I will follow government-set protocols on such cases and go into self-quarantine immediately given that I interacted with the said individual during that committee hearing,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“I instructed all my staff to do the same, especially those who had direct contact with the said person too,” he added.
In a separate statement, Binay said, “Following the decision of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian to go into self-quarantine, I have likewise decided to take similar precautions and self-monitor for the next 14 days.”
“I have asked my staff to do the same and take precautionary steps to limit face-to-face interactions. With close to 50 people already been tested positive, it only shows that the exposure to the virus is real, and there’s a high chance that someone out there is a carrier,” she added.
Last night, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying that they “expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.”
This article, Duterte to get tested for COVID-19, senators Gatchalian and Binay go into quarantine, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!