Pia Cayetano's staff has COVID-19: Senate secretary

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2020 04:05 PM

FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via Reuters

MANILA - One of Sen. Pia Cayetano's staff has been infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Senate Secretary said Thursday, the fourth Senate worker who tested positive for the disease.

The unnamed staff got the virus from a "person close to her family," Senate Secretary Myra Marie Villarica said in a statement.

"She reported for work on March 11, the last day of session, but did not go to the plenary hall. She did not manifest any of the symptoms of COVID-19 then. It was only after March 11 that she exhibited symptoms," Villarica said.

The staff member, and other employees of Cayetano with whom she was in contact, did not come to the Senate on March 23, when the chamber held a special session to pass a law that will grant special powers to President Rodrigo Duterte in addressing the public health emergency.

The Senate Medical Team is in the process of contact tracing, and has advised other Senate employees to "impose quarantine measures and give assistance in the testing of our employees as needed," Villarica said.

"Rest assured that all measures are being undertaken by the Senate and the Office of Senator Cayetano to address the needs of the patient," Villarica said.

"We need to rise above these extraordinary situation. Be more patient, calm, prayerful and informed."

Earlier this month, the Senate building was restricted as the establishment was disinfected after a resource person who attended a March 5 hearing tested positive for the coronavirus.

Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay, who both attended the said hearing, tested negative for COVID-19.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and senators Sonny Angara and Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III - who were not in the said hearing - also confirmed to have acquired the disease.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there is no need to conduct another disinfection in the Senate.

"We already did that (disinfection). The 3 senators have not gone to the Senate since the last session day," Sotto told ABS-CBN News.

The Senate is currently on its 2-month Holy Week break, but Sotto still advised the chamber's employees to stay at home and test for the disease if possible.

"If given the opportunity, go for a test. Many have undergone rapid testing anyway. Private [testing] ha, not government," he said, referring to how lawmakers were earlier bashed for taking the COVID-19 test despite being asymptomatic.