Duterte, Cabinet members exposed to COVID-19 patient in March 5 infra event

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2020 09:35 AM | Updated as of Mar 12 2020 09:57 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte applauds after leading the inspection of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbor Link Circumferential Road 3 (C3)-R10 Section in Caloocan City on March 5, 2020. Richard Madelo, Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will have himself tested for the new coronavirus while his key Cabinet members will go on self-quarantine after an exposure to a person who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the inspection of a road project last week, officials have confirmed to ABS-CBN News.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno attended the inspection and presentation of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbor Link Circumferential Road 3-Circumference 10 in Caloocan City on March 5 where the person who tested positive for COVID-19 was also present.

“I was in the NLEX inspection ceremony with Secretaries Dominguez and Tugade last Thursday…Thought it’s best to go on self-quarantine to be on the safe side,” Diokno told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

Another Cabinet official, who refused to be named, also confirmed that the NLEX event prompted the self-quarantine of several of the President's men.

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

President Duterte, who graced the event, meanwhile will get tested for COVID-19 on Thursday along with his former aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go who was also at the event.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the chief executive and the lawmaker chose to undergo the test to “ensure that they are fit and healthy to perform their duties as government workers.”

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, who was not present at the March 5 event, also opted to go on self-quarantine following contact with Dominguez during an economic cluster development meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday.

The government’s inter-agency task force handling the country’s response to the disease outbreak is scheduled to meet on Thursday “to respond to the recent disturbing development” in relation to COVID-19, Panelo said.