Senate under restricted access, senators on self-quarantine after guest tests positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo
Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate of the Philippines has been placed on restricted access to allow disinfection on Thursday (March 12) after one resource person in a recent Senate hearing tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On Wednesday evening (March 11), Senate President Vicente Sotto III set the restriction to begin Thursday until the weekend to allow disinfection of the Senate halls.

“We are playing it safe. Better to err on the side of caution. But let’s not be paranoid. Quarantine period is being observed already by those concerned,” Sotto said in a statement.

“I’m optimistic that there is no real danger in the Senate,” he added.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian who led the committee hearing on March 5, voluntarily went on self-quarantine after interacting with the resource person.

“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,” Gatchalian said.

“I instructed all my staff to do the same especially those who had direct contact with the said person too,” he added.

Also in a statement, Senator Nancy 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.”

“This is a serious public health matter and I enjoin everyone who came in contact with me in the past week to take the same precautions and observe all the basic hygienic processes,” Binay said.

Binay said she also asked her staff to do the same and take preventive measures.

“With close to 50 people already 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 said.

Apart from Gatchalian and Binay, Finance Chief Carlos Dominguez III and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade as well as Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran all went into self-quarantine.

Dominguez and Tugade both submitted themselves to COVID-19 tests despite being asymptomatic as they also interacted with another COVID-19 carrier last week.

“I was told that a fellow I met with last Thursday and Friday last week has tested positive for COVID-19 today. I have no symptoms but I am self-isolating until I get tested. You may wish to follow suit,” Dominguez said.

Senator Sotto said they will also review the closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) in Senate to determine who were the other people the Covid-19 carrier interacted with. MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)

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