Govt officials in self-quarantine

Credit to Author: Catherine S. Valente, TMT| Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2020 16:20:23 +0000

Some members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet will be quarantined after they attended a meeting with a lawmaker who tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Sen. Edgardo Angara (left) and Rizal Gov. Nini Ynares THE MANILA TIMES FILE PHOTO

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles on Thursday said the Cabinet officials who would be quarantined were at a meeting where officials from the executive department and Congress discussed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“So far so good naman po in terms of sa kalusugan (of our health). Pero dahil dito sa sa nangyari sa isang kongresista, hindi ko alam kung pumunta siya ng Palasyo, pero may ilang miyembro ng Gabinete na pumunta sa Kongreso para sa Bayanihan Act (But because of what happened to a congressman, I don’t know if they visited the Palace, but there are some members of the Cabinet who went to Congress to discuss the Bayanihan Act),” he said during an interview with DZBB radio.

“So, dito sila nagkaroon ng exposure sa isang kongresista kaya ang protocol po, dahil may exposure sila sa positive ay kailangan po nilang mag-quarantine (there they have exposure to a congressman who tested positive for Covid-19 and the protocol for that is they have to undergo a quarantine),” he added, referring to ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, who revealed he is positive for the disease.

Because of that, Nograles said the members the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would have now to conduct their meetings using video chat.

He also decided to go on self-quarantine because he had a second-level exposure to Yap.

“Kaming mga kasamahan nila sa Gabinete, second generation po kami. Wala naman sa protocol na mag-quarantine kami pero ang ilan sa amin minabuti na lang po namin, katulad ko, na mag-voluntary self-quarantine na lamang (We, the other Cabinet members, are considered second-level exposure. While it is not part of the protocol, we opted to go on quarantine),” Nograles said.

“Pero kami sa IATF, patuloy ang aming trabaho through telecon[ference] na lang. Kasi kung magka-quarantine ‘yung iba kong kasamahan, necessarily kailangan ma-telecon namin sila (But our job in the IATF will continue through teleconferencing. If our other members will go on quarantine, it is important that we still include them through video chat),” he added.

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo urged those who had physical contact with Yap to follow the 14-day self-quarantine protocol “for their protection.”

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista and Peace Process Adviser Carlito Galvez announced they would be quarantined after being exposed to Yap.

In a text message, Avisado confirmed that he was with Yap at the meeting in Malacañang over the weekend, but said he had no direct contact with the congressman.

He stressed that he would have to go “another round of self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.”

This would be Avisado’s second time to isolate himself this month due to exposure to a Covid patient.

The Budget chief had cut short his self-quarantine after learning that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd tested negative for Covid.

Dominguez, who came in contact with Avisado in a meeting early this month, and other top government officials had self-quarantined since they were in an event that was attended by a person who was Covid-positive.

In separate text message, Bautista said he decided to go in on self-quarantine after being in the same room with Yap.

But he said he was feeling “very good.”

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who was also at the Palace meeting, assured there was social distancing and wearing of masks during the Palace meeting.

Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go began his self-quarantine on Wednesday night after Yap confirmed that he had the coronavirus.

“It is unfortunate that Congressman Eric Yap has tested positive for Covid-19. We are currently initiating contact tracing, particularly those present during a meeting I attended last Saturday,” said Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives who attended the special session on Monday will be quarantined after House Appropriations Committee Chairman and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap tested positive for Covid-19.

Yap said his results came out on Wednesday, 10 days after he was tested for Covid-19 on March 15.

He was among the 21 lawmakers who physically attended the special session and was one of the authors of House Bill 6616, or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” granting special powers to the President for the government’s efforts against the pandemic.

He also attended the meeting of top government officials in Malacañang last Saturday to discuss measures against Covid-19.

Yap said he opted to be tested as he was exposed to people who were known to have interacted with those positive of Covid-19. This included the hearing of his committee on March 10 that passed a P1.6-billion supplemental budget for the Department of Health and other engagements since then.

He apologized for potentially spreading the virus and possibly putting in danger people he has interacted with. He said he asked for the test results before the session and the Malacañang meeting, but they were unavailable then.

Aside from Yap, those who attended the special session were Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano; House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez; Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu, Luis Raymond Villafuerte, Robbie Puno and Aurelio Gonzales Jr.; and Rules committee members Sharky Palma, Precious Castelo and Juan Miguel Arroyo.

Also present in the session were Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, Quezon City Rep. Jesus Suntay, Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Jr., Manila Rep. Manny Lopez, Isabela Rep. Tonypet Albano, Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino, Cavite Rep. Francis Gerald Abaya and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor.

Romualdez, Abante, Albano, Castro, Defensor, Sy-Alvarado have confirmed that they are now undergoing self-quarantine.

WITH DIVINA NOVA JOY DELA CRUZ

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