Key Cabinet members, senators, other officials on self-quarantine over COVID-19

Published March 12, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Several members of the Cabinet, some senators, mayors, and other lo- cal officials are undergoing self-quarantine after their exposure to persons who later tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Among the Cabinet members now on voluntary isolation are Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Economic and Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor BenjaminE. Diokno, and Bases Conversion and Development Authority chief Vince Dizon.

Other officials undergoing self-quarantine are: Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Mayors Oca Malapitan of Caloocan, Lenlen Oreta of Malabon, Toby Tiangco of Navotas, and Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela, among others. Also planning to undergo self- quarantine is Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.

Both Dominguez and Diokno interacted with somebody tested positive for COVID-19.

The finance chief said he decided to undergo self-quarantine even if he is not experiencing any symptoms. “I am glad to share that I am well and not manifesting any symptoms, although I also decided to go on self- quarantine as a precautionary measure,” said Diokno in a statement.

Diokno attended the NLEX meeting that was also participated in by Dominguez and Tugade.

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday suspended work at the Central Office in Pasig City following the announcement that some of its officials and personnel, including Briones, are currently undergoing home quarantine as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19.

“We just have to stay away from each other. Telepono na lang, text-text. Nagcrecreate ng sistema ngayon na puwede kami mag-meet for teleconferencing (We will remain in touch through telephones, text messaging. A system is being created to allow us to meet for teleconferencing),” Medialdea said Wednesday after deciding to undergo self-quarantine.

In a statement, the National Economic and Development Authority, said Pernia has gone on self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.

He had no close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 even though he was in the same meeting with other officials.

Gatchalian had earlier bared that one of the resource persons in a hearing by the Senate Basic Education Committee last March 5 was one of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Gatchalian, as well as Sen. Nancy Binay, who also attended the hearing, are now on self-quarantine. Lacson said he has chosen to follow Gatchalian and Binay’s lead.

“There is every reason to be concerned as far as the senate is concerned since an invited resource person who has been tested positive for COVID-19 had not only entered the senate premises but even interacted with at least two senators and their staff, and God knows how many among us had close contact with our two colleagues, and so forth and so on, sharing elevators, lounge, and the session hall with them.”

Lacson added: “Sad to say, the developing events have already showed the inadequate response of government in regard to monitoring and containment.”

A statement from Ungab’s office said he began self-quarantine today, Thursday. “I was at the Senate with Mayor Inday Sara (Duterte-Carpio) yesterday (Wednesday) and I interacted as well with Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. Although he looks very healthy and asymptomatic, the most responsible thing to do is to subject myself to home quarantine and make sure that I won’t be spreading the virus in case I got it,” Ungab said.

Mayor Duterte-Carpio also started her home quarantine Wednesday, Ungab bared. She said she had lunch that day with Gatchalian.

Domagoso said Wednesday night that he will go on self-quarantine at the Manila City Hall after travelling to the United Kingdom (UK) in light of the threat of the COVID-19.

“Just so you know, I’m going to submit myself to self-quarantine para lang mapanatag kayo (to reassure you),” he told Manila City government and health officials in a meeting late Wednesday night.

Tiangco said: “Kaninang umaga paggising ko, nakita ko po sa news na ilang Cabinet secretaries ay nagself quarantine dahil sila po ay pumunta sa isang affair na kung saan ang isang tao ay nagtest positive sa COVID-19 (When I woke up, I learned from new that some of the Cabinet secretaries are under self-quarantine because they attended an affair where one person tested for COVID-19),” Tiangco said Thursday morning.

“Nakaharap ko rin po itong mga Cabinet secretaries na ito, kaya sa tingin ko ang tinutukoy na affair ay nandon din ako (I met with these Cabinet secretaries, so I think, I also attended the affair that is being referred to),” he added.

However, Tiangco stressed that he is not showing any signs of COVID-19 symptoms and will only undergo quar- antine “for the safety of the people.”

In view of these developments, the Department of Finance (DOF) headquarters in Manila is closed today (Thursday) to undertake cleaning and disinfecting.

Dominguez said the DOF will resume operations once the disinfection is completed and advised by the Department of Health (DOH).

He also said that premises of DOF’s attached agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Cus- toms, will be cleaned and disinfected over the weekend.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) headquarters, which is connected to DOF building, is also on lockdown today to undergo disinfection.

Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), likewise, ordered to its staff to temporarily work from home today following advice that a visitor to the headquarters has tested positive for COVID-19.

ADB said that its facilities will undertake cleaning and disinfecting but will continue to operate.

Its management will make a decision in coming days on when to reopen the bank premises.

“The safety of staff, visitors to the bank, and their families is of utmost importance to us. We are providing support to staff who interacted with the visitor,” Deborah Stokes, ADB vice president for administration and corporate management said.

Diokno said no BSP staff or employees are yet exposed to the coronavirus and there are no confirmed cases within the BSP.

Monetary Board members, in the meantime, have also confirmed that all their meetings will be held at the BSP’s Security Plant Complex (SPC) in Quezon City on March 13, while the BSP main is on lockdown.

So far, none of the six Monetary Board members are under self-quarantine, other than the chairman who is Diokno.

Diokno said the Monetary Board will continue to do its duty as the BSP’s policy-making body.

All meetings and operations will be done at the SPC compound.

“We have ensured (that) vital BSP services needed by the financial system continue. Hence, open market opera- tions, PhilPass settlement, as well as the servicing of bank withdrawals are being performed business as usual,” said Diokno. (Richa Noriega, Hannah L. Torregoza, Vanne P. Terrazola, Chino Leyco, Lee C. Chipongian, Genalyn D. Kabiling, Minka S. Tiangco, Ina Hernando-Malipot, and Joseph Pedrajas)

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