4 Cabinet officials test negative for COVID-19

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2020 01:25 PM | Updated as of Mar 15 2020 03:43 PM

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar have tested negative for COVID-19 after being exposed to an infected person. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (UPDATE) - Four Philippine Cabinet officials, who were exposed to an infected person, have tested negative for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), officials said Sunday.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar are clear of the virus even after attending an event, along with President Rodrigo Duterte, last March 5 where a person who later tested positive for COVID-19 was present.

Duterte also tested negative for the virus, which has spread to more than 100 countries since it was first detected in China late last year.

"Matibay ang Pilipino. Tuloy ang trabaho. COVID-19 may be strong, but it will never be strong enough to bring this country, and the hearts of the Filipinos down. GOD IS GOOD,” Tugade said in a statement.

Medialdea said he will complete the quarantine period, while Tugade will "take precautionary measures seriously while working for the benefit of the country," according to Transportation spokesperson Goddess Libiran.

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 March 10.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and his chief of staff, meantime, also tested negative for the virus after visiting the United Kingdom for official business, the city's public information office said.

The Philippines has so far recorded 111 cases of COVID-19, a new coronavirus strain that has infected some 150,000 people around the world, with more than 5,000 deaths, mostly in China, the epicenter of the outbreak. 

Eight of the 111 cases recorded so far in the Philippines resulted in the patients' deaths.

The Philippine government placed Metro Manila under community quarantine starting Sunday to curb the spread of the virus, as most cases were recorded in the capital region. --Report from Arianne Merez and Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News