Philippine health chief on quarantine, awaits COVID-19 test result

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2020 12:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2020 09:51 PM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) -- Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is on home quarantine and waiting for test results for novel coronavirus, his agency said Thursday, just 2 days after it confirmed that one of its officials was infected with COVID-19

Duque was tested for COVID-19 because he is asthmatic and hypertensive, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a text message.

The Secretary has not shown symptoms of the disease and "is now doing work from home," she said in a text message.

In a phone interview with ABS-CBN News, Duque, who was exposed to a positive COVID-19 case, said he had been on quarantine since Wednesday morning.

“I’m okay. Wala naman akong lagnat (I’m okay. I do not have fever),” he said, adding that he is waiting for the test results in four days.

“Whatever the test result is, I have to complete my 14-day quarantine because you don’t know in the end you might still be positive,” he said.

Duque said they are already setting up a teleconferencing facility so he can continue to work.

He said the DOH senior official who tested positive for COVID-19 is still in the hospital but has been improving. “He was given additional oxygen and he does not have fever anymore. It seems he’s on his way, hopefully to full recovery,” Duque said.

The Health Secretary said other officials who had close contact with the director are also under quarantine.

Due to the limited number of testing kits in the Philippines, the Health department earlier said that the COVID-19 test would only be administered to the elderly and patients who have been exhibiting symptoms of the disease including fever, headache, cough and colds.

The health department on Wednesday said its offices were disinfected.

The Philippines so far tallied 202 cases of COVID-19, including 17 deaths and 7 patients who recovered.

To arrest the pathogen's spread, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday placed all Luzon households under home quarantine until April 12. — With reports from Kristine Sabillo and Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News