MANILA (UPDATE) - Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri said Monday he tested positive for COVID-19, making him the Philippines' first national official who contracted the new coronavirus.
Zubiri was tested for the disease last Friday, and received his diagnosis from Health Secretary Francisco Duque through a phone call Monday afternoon.
“My heart sank with what he said... It is with sadness I announce that I am positive for COVID-19,” Zubiri told reporters in a text message, warning others how “dangerously infectious” the virus is.
“I was very careful in my dealings with people at work in the Senate. I practiced social distancing, as well as a no-handshake policy, but yet i got contaminated. How? I do not know,” Zubiri said.
“I hope my coming out will show how dangerously infectious this virus is... This just goes to show how easily this virus is spread, and therefore it is best for everyone to stay home and stay clean,” he said.
Zubiri said he remains asymptomatic and will undergo another test after 10 days to see if he is still a carrier of the virus.
“I am asymptomatic and have no fever or cough nor am I weak or have any headaches,” he said.
“My decision to self quarantine last Wednesday evening after session was the best decision I made and could have protected my family from contamination,” the senator said.
Zubiri said he only needed to take paracetamol and vitamins, as per Duque.
"'Wag po kayong mag-alala. Kaya natin 'to. Ipaglaban natin 'to. Ilalaban ko 'to. We can fight this. We will survive this. Of course, nagdadasal tayo sa ating mahal na Panginoon," Zubiri said in a TV Patrol interview.
The senator earlier placed himself under voluntary isolation after a resource person who attended a hearing in the Senate tested positive for COVID-19.
Sen. Nancy Binay, who attended the said hearing, earlier tested negative for the virus.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who had 2 meetings with the infected patient and is also in isolation, has yet to receive his test results.
At least 5 other senators have also placed themselves under a 14-day quarantine since last week.
Prior to Zubiri’s announcement, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Senate workers would not be required to work at the Senate office in Pasay City while the Metro Manila is under an “enhanced community quarantine.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the “enhanced community quarantine” was similar to a “total lockdown.”
The Philippines is under a state of public health emergency as the government imposed measures to stop the spread of the virus that originated from Wuhan, China.
As of March 15, the Philippines has recorded 140 COVID-19 cases in the country, including 12 fatalities. Two have recovered, while the rest are still confined in hospitals.
The World Health Organization has declared the disease as a pandemic, infecting more than 160,000 people and claiming the lives of over 6,000 globally.