Duterte tests negative for COVID-19

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2020 10:20 PM | Updated as of Mar 14 2020 12:25 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has tested negative for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go announced on Friday, as several of Cabinet officials isolated themselves from the public following exposure to a person who tested positive for the disease.

Duterte postponed his scheduled inspection of Boracay island on Thursday to undergo testing along with Go, his former aide, who also tested negative for the virus.

"We are fit and healthy to perform our duties," Go said.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo also confirmed that the president and his former aide tested negative for the virus and will be back to work.

"This means that there is no stopping the Chief Executive from performing his primary constitutional duty of serving and protecting the people, especially at this perilous time when our country is faced with a deathly disease that threatens the very lives of our countrymen," Panelo said in a statement.

"[Duterte] will continue to work with his usual passion and dedication for the nation. He will observe pre-emptive measures to secure his health as he steers the government in arresting the spread of the contagion," he added.

Panelo said the 74-year-old 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.”

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez also underwent self-quarantine to ensure that they are free of the virus after close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

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

The World Health Organization is characterizing the outbreak of the new coronavirus as pandemic due to "the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction."

--with a report from Reuters