By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate officials are mulling enforcing a lockdown of their building after two employees tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they are still studying whether or not it will be necessary as requested by some of their employees.
“We are already in semi-lockdown. I was just briefed by the Senate Secretary of the request of some employees. There are also hearings and work to be conducted by Senators’ offices, so we cannot declare a total lockdown,” Sotto said in a text message to reporters on Tuesday. He confirmed that two of their employees contracted the disease.
“Besides, their salaries will not be processed in a total lockdown scenario. Therefore, my suggestion to the Senate Secretary is to inform those who want a lockdown to do so if they prefer, but we cannot declare so for the entire Senate,” he added.
Sotto also noted that the persons exposed to the two employees “have already passed their 14-day self quarantine.”
The Senate building in Pasay City was disinfected on Monday, June 22, after new cases of COVID-19 were recorded among its employees.
Information reaching reporters on Monday said two employees who contracted the disease were from the Legislative Budget Service, and the Management Planning and Operations Audit Bureau.
The Senate is currently on a break and will resume sessions in July. Committee hearings are being conducted in a hybrid of physical meetings and teleconferencing.
Last May, rapid tests were conducted among employees who resumed work in the Upper Chamber since Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine. At least 18 tested positive for antibodies and were told to undergo self-quarantine.
As per the Senate’s Medical and Dental Bureau, 16 COVID-19 cases were so far recorded in the chamber since March — 10 were from the secretariat office while six were from the offices of the senators.
Of the total cases, 13 have recovered, including Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.
An employee of Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., meanwhile, died last March due to the virus.