Education chief Briones has COVID-19, no symptoms

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 09 2020 02:40 PM | Updated as of Apr 09 2020 07:23 PM

DepEd Sec is second Cabinet official to catch novel coronavirus 

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Thursday she tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the second member of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet to catch the respiratory illness.

Briones, 79, said she was screened for the disease after she attended a March 23 meeting with a Cabinet member who later announced he was infected with the novel coronavirus.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, 58, said last week he had tested positive for COVID-19.  

Briones said she was asymptomatic and that her body temperature, taken thrice daily, remained normal.

"Wala akong sipon, ubo, difficulty in breathing, upset stomach. I don't have those symptoms at all," she told ABS-CBN News Thursday evening.

There has been "no documented asymptomatic transmission" of COVID-19, the World Health Organization said in an April 2 report

The virus "is primarily transmitted from symptomatic people to others who are in close contact through respiratory droplets, by direct contact with infected persons, or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces," it added.

People over 60 years old and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer are " at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 disease," the WHO said.

Duterte has tested negative for COVID-19 and has not developed symptoms, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Monday. The 75-year-old President completed a 2-week quarantine on Tuesday.

Briones said she would go on isolation and "continue working virtually."

"Total isolation ako. Nasa kuwarto ng bahay para hindi makapag-spread," she said.

Her family and staff have also transferred as a precautionary measure.

"The Secretary is in high spirits, and she will be under close medical monitoring while in isolation," said her Chief of Staff, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan.

Malacañang offered prayers for the recovery of Briones.

"We are sad to hear that Sec. Leonor Briones is COVD-19 positive. We are praying that she gets healed from this dreadful disease," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

"As expected and as announced by her, she will continue to perform her duties as Education Secretary while in isolation and despite her present illness," he added.

The Philippines has so far recorded 4,076 COVID-19 cases, with 203 deaths and 124 recoveries.