Rapid testing boosts COVID-19 safeguards for Duterte: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2020 01:51 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte holds a meeting with some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 13, 2020. Karl Norman Alonzo, Presidential Photo

MANILA- Requiring visitors of President Rodrigo Duterte to take a rapid COVID-19 test is an additional safeguard in securing the chief executive's health in light of the pandemic, his spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday.

The Presidential Security Group on Wednesday announced that rapid COVID-19 testing will be part of its additional security measures.

"Please understand, the rapid testing is additional safeguard but the primary safeguard is that no one who suffers from any symptoms and no one who has had any contacts with COVID-19 will be allowed in the Palace," Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

While there are doubts about the accuracy of rapid test kits, Roque said the Palace hopes that President Duterte is "more protected" from contracting COVID-19 with its use.

Duterte last month tested negative for COVID-19 and underwent home quarantine earlier this month.

"Let me make this very clear, we make no apologies for the fact that we are protecting the life of the President," Roque said.

"Gagamitin po natin ang lahat ng resources na kaya natin gamitin para protektahan ang Presidente dahil ang Presidente po ay hinalal ng taumbayan para mamuno sa kanila lalung-lalo na sa mga panahon ng krisis tulad nito," he added.

(We will use all resources we can to protect the President because the President was elected by the people to lead them, especially at a time of crisis like this.)

The new screening measure is in addition to the "no-touch" policy on the President implemented by the PSG since last month.

The President had earlier tested negative for the coronavirus and spent his 75th birthday in quarantine.

Malacañang has been enforcing stricter screening protocols since February when it started requiring Palace visitors to fill up a health declaration form in light of the virus outbreak.

All persons entering the Malacañang complex also undergo a temperature check and are also asked to rub their hands with alcohol. 

Those with a body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher are refused entry.