Ahead of Duterte SONA, more Presidential communications staff contract COVID-19

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2020 03:32 PM | Updated as of Jul 26 2020 04:51 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Sunday reported 12 more cases of COVID-19 among its staff and from its attached agencies, raising the total to 25.

The PCOO said it has 19 active cases of the disease. One employee from its attached agencies who contracted the disease died in April, it added.

While some PTV and Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) staffers have fallen ill, Palace coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) will proceed on Monday, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said.

Government has barred members of private media inside the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City when Duterte physically delivers his penultimate SONA.

State media who will cover the address will undergo COVID-19 testing to ensure the safety of Duterte and the limited number of guests, Andanar said.

Radio Television-Malacanang will be under a 2-week lockdown after 2 of its staff tested positive for the coronavirus and will deploy a team who had no contact with infected personnel for the SONA, he added. 

Andanar said work-from-home arrangements had been adopted as disinfection continues at Malacañang's New Executive Building (NEB), which houses the communications office.

The PCOO has also formed a COVID-19 response team to coordinate its contact tracing, testing, monitoring and isolation of personnel, according to the secretary.

"We continue to assist and support the family of those who have been infected by COVID-19, in the same way we ensure the safety of all of our personnel against the virus," he said.