Duterte will be tested for COVID 19 as officials go on self-quarantine, offices shut

The Philippines on Thursday awaited test results of President Rodrigo Duterte for coronavirus infection, as top officials went on self-quarantine as a precaution against the spread of the disease.

The 74-year-old Duterte was in the same March 5 infrastructure event as a confirmed case of COVID-19, along with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno. The 4 officials will also go on self-quarantine.

Duterte and Sen. Bong Go, his former long-time aide who was also at the event, will get tested Thursday to “ensure that they are fit and healthy to perform their duties as government workers,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at an event in Malacanang. The Philippines on Thursday awaited test results of the 74-year-old leader for coronavirus infection, as top officials went on self-quarantine as a precaution against the spread of the disease. Ted Aljibe, AFP/file

A task force coordinating government response to the coronavirus outbreak will meet later Thursday, Panelo said.

The Senate was shut Thursday for disinfection after a guest at a recent hearing tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay to go on 14-day quarantine. The Government Service Insurance System, which shares the same building as the Senate, was also closed.

The President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she was going on 14-day quarantine after a recent visit to the Senate.

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, who was not present at the March 5 event, opted to go on self-quarantine following contact with Dominguez during an economic cluster development meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones went on self-quarantine as a precaution after an attendee at a meeting in her department’s office tested positive for the disease. She did not have contact with the patient, according to her office.

Work at the BSP’s Manila headquarters and security plant complex was suspended for two days from Thursday to give way to cleaning. The Asian Development Bank in Manila said it was indefinitely closing its offices after a recent visitor tested positive for the disease. Staff will work from home, the ADB said.

The Department of Finance (DOF) also closed Thursday for thourough sanitizing “as a precautionary measure” with normal operations set to resume on March 16. 

Dominguez ordered all DOF attached agencies to thoroughly disinfect their premises, the agency said. 

The Philippines has confirmed 49 cases of COVID-19 so far. Local transmissions confirmed over the weekend prompted Duterte to declare a state of public health emergency.

Quezon City, Metro Manila’s largest with nearly 3 million people, confirmed its 5th case of COVID-19, Mayor Joy Belmonte told DZMM. She could not say if the fifth case was on top of the 49 in the national tally.