MANILA (UPDATE)- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday he tested positive for COVID-19, making him the seventh Duterte Cabinet member to contract the infectious disease.
"The result of my RT-PCR test today, 06 April 2021, came up positive. I will be undergoing isolation, following the quarantine guidelines to avoid infecting others," Lorenzana, 72, said in a statement.
Arsenio Andolong, Director of the Department of National Defense (DND) Communications Service, told ABS-CBN News that Lorenzana is asymptomatic.
"Those who have been exposed to me have been informed. They have been advised to isolate and get tested for COVID-19 as well," Lorenzana said in his statement.
He said the DND will continue its services as it operates with a skeletal work force.
"I would like to remind everyone that the threat of the virus is as real as ever, more so now due to the new variants. Let us all cooperate and abide by the prescribed health protocols to help in curbing the spread of COVID-19," said Lorenzana, who is also chair of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
Lorenzana was spared from catching the virus in July last year after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. But he went on quarantine nonetheless.
Other members of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet who were infected with the COVID-19 virus are Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
The Philippines has seen a surge in COVID-19 infections since March which authorities and analysts attribute to the presence of more transmissible coronavirus variants, the public's non-compliance with health protocols, and increased mobility of people after the gradual reopening of the economy.
As of Tuesday, the country has recorded a total of 812,760 COVID-19 cases. The tally includes 13,817 deaths, 646,381 recoveries, and 152,562 active cases.