By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The National Government said it was up to President Duterte if he feels he has to undergo another test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año announced that he had contracted the dreaded disease.
In a virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said President Duterte was free to undergo testing if he is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. He added that the same applies to Cabinet members and members of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“Kanya-kanyang desisyon po ‘yan kung depende sa kanyang karamdaman. (It’s up to him to decide depending on his condition),” he said Wednesday.
“Nasa membership na po ng IATF kung magpapa-test ba sila o hindi, depende sa kanilang karamdaman. (It’s up to the members of the IATF if they want to be tested depending on what they feel),” he added.
President Duterte was already tested for COVID-19 early last month due to his engagement with Cabinet members who were exposed to persons who were later found positive of the disease. The President’s test came out negative.
Nograles, who is also the spokesman for the IATF, said that while he has been in isolation for six days already, he has no plans to have himself tested for COVID-19 since he was asymptomatic.
“Habang wala pa po akong sintomas ay hindi muna ako magpapatest bagamat isolated na po ako sa aking household. (As long as am not experiencing the symptoms, I won’t opt for a test though I am already isolated in my house),” he said.
Año is the first member of the Cabinet to contract the COVID-19. According to Nograles, Año testing positive for the diseases was proof that no one is spared from the dreaded virus.
“[It is] a painful reminder that the virus can infect anyone and is blind to age, gender, title, and station,” he said.
“This sobering news also hammers home the point that those working and leading from the front, like Secretary Año, are the ones most vulnerable to the disease,” he added.
Nograles said the recent development likewise emphasized the need for everyone to act responsibly in the midst of the “greatest public health crisis of our time” by staying at home, especially if they are exposed to potential carriers of the virus.
“This is consistent with what we have stressed from day one: when in doubt, stay at home. This is exactly what Secretary Año did, and by exercising prudence and staying home he has spared many others from sharing his fate,” he said.
“I join all those praying for the good health of Secretary Año, and hope that he recovers soon,” he added.