MANILA (UPDATE) — Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque on Monday said he has tested positive for COVID-19, even as he said that the government's response to the pandemic was "excellent."
Roque, also spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said he recently took 2 tests for the novel coronavirus.
He tested negative for COVID-19 on March 10, on the eve of his trip with President Rodrigo Duterte to Dumaguete City.
Roque said he took another test on Sunday because he was supposed to meet Duterte on Monday. "Dito po, lumabas na tayo ay positibo," he said in a press briefing.
(This is where I tested positive.)
"Iyong nagkaroon po sa akin ng close contact, I ask you po for your indulgence, pero kinakailangan po kayong mag-quarantine," he added.
(Those who had close contact with me, I ask you for your indulgence, but you need to go on quarantine.)
"Bukas po, iyong magiging case bulletin ng DOH, kasama na rin po ang inyong abang lingkod, because as of 11:29 this morning, nakuha ko po ang resulta na positibo po ako para sa COVID."
(The case bulletin tomorrow of the Department of Health will include your humble servant because as of 11:29 this morning, I got the result that I am positive for COVID.)
Roque said his positive test result "came as a surprise and as a shock" because he had tested negative for the novel coronavirus at least 35 times previously.
He said he "did not have any close contact" with the President during their Dumaguete trip.
Roque said he was not experiencing any COVID-19 symptom. With government discouraging home quarantine, he said he would go to an isolation facility to "walk the talk."
The Palace spokesman said he regrets that we was not able to get vaccinated at the Philippine General Hospital, where the inoculation drive was launched last March 1.
"I think, sad na hindi ako nakapagpabakuna (that I was not able to get vaccinated). But we also have to follow protocols na unahin muna natin iyong mga medical frontliners," he said.
(I think it was sad that I was not able to get vaccinated. But we also have to follow protocols to inoculate medical frontliners first.)
Video courtesy of PTV
The country on Monday marked its first year of imposing one of the world's longest and toughest quarantines, starting in the capital Manila, meant to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Among the hardest hit by the pandemic, the Philippines now has 229 coronavirus testing labs, up from only one facility early last year. The Philippines has also set up 10,000 isolation facilities, said Roque.
“Excellent naman po talaga tayo sa handling, until this month of March kung saan sumipa ang mga kaso ng COVID,” said Roque.
“Ito po ay dahil nagpapapabaya ang taongbayan, ako ba ho ay nagpabaya? Sa tingin ko, hindi naman dahil sumusunod po talaga tayo sa minimum health protocols,” he added.
(We were excellent in our handling, until this month of March when COVID cases spiked. Is this because the public was complacent, was I complacent? I don't think so because we really follow minimum health protocols.)
The Philippines, as of Monday, has recorded 626,893 total coronavirus infections after logging an additional 5,404 cases, the fourth highest reported in a day since the start of the pandemic in the country.