PH officials undergo self-quarantine due to COVID-19 threat


Posted at Mar 11 2020 09:26 PM | Updated as of Mar 12 2020 12:13 AM

MANILA (UPDATE)—At least two senators said they would undergo self-quarantine due to exposure to a person who tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said Wednesday he would undergo self-quarantine after learning that a resource person at a recent committee hearing he chaired had tested positive for COVID-19.

The lawmaker said a resource person who appeared at a committee hearing he chaired on Thursday last week is among confirmed patients of the coronavirus. He remains asymptomatic and feels "healthy," he said.

"I have recently been informed that a resource person who attended the hearing of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture last March 5, 2020, which I Chair, has tested positive for COVID-19," he said.

"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.

He said he has told his staff, "especially those who had direct contact with the said person," to also undergo self-quarantine.

A few hours after Gatchalian's announcement, Sen. Nancy Binay also said she would undergo self-quarantine because she was in the same hearing as Gatchalian.

"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," she said.

"Sen. Gatchalian and I were present during the March 5, 2020 hearing, and it is with a heavy heart to learn that one of our resource speakers has been tested positive for COVID-19."

Binay said she has also instructed her staff to go on self-quarantine and take precautionary steps to limit face-to-face interactions.

Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade and other agency officials will also undergo a 14-day self-quarantine after they were exposed to a person who recently tested positive for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Department of Transportation spokesperson Goddess Libiran, in a statement, said aside from Tugade she and other DOTr personnel will also undergo self-quarantine.

The agency did not name the person positive for COVID-19 they interacted with.

Aside from Tugade, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez likewise said he will undergo a 14-day self-quarantine after interacting with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

In a text message to reporters, Dominguez said he is undergoing the self-quarantine even if he is not experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Manila City Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, through a Facebook live video, said he will go on self-quarantine following his trip to the United Kingdom.

"I'm going to submit myself to self-quarantine, para lang mapanatag kayo. I'm going to stay in city hall, be contained in the area and I will (undergo) some tests also," Domagoso said during a meeting with members of the Manila health sector.

Gatchalian and Binay are the highest Philippine officials to declare self-quarantine amid the continuing rise in cases of the acute respiratory disease, which has afflicted a total of 49 people in the country as of Wednesday.

Under the protocol of the health department, undergoing self-quarantine means isolating oneself for 14 days.