MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), he announced to reporters on Monday night, March 16.
Zubiri, the first high-ranking legislative official to contract the virus, said in a statement that he didn’t know how he got COVID-19. Zubiri got tested last Friday, March 13.
“This afternoon, I received a call from Secretary [Francisco Duque III] on my condition. My heart sank with what he had said but Im uplifted with the fact that I am asymptomatic and have no fever or cough, nor am I weak or have any headaches,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri had voluntarily isolated himself, after learning that Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Senator Nancy Binay had exposure to a COVID-19 patient at a Senate hearing on March 5.
“I was very careful in my dealings with people at work in the Senate. I practiced social distancing as well as a no-handshake policy yet I got contaminated. How? I do not know,” the majority leader said.
“This just goes to show how easily this virus is spread and therefore it is best for everyone to stay home and stay clean,” he added.
Zubiri said that he will be on self-quarantine for the next 10 days until he gets checked again whether he still has the virus.
“Sa aking mga kababayans, makinig po tayo sa mga babala ng gobyerno at ‘wag na po kayo lumabas sa inyong mga tahanan,” Zubiri said. (To my fellow citizens, listen to the warnings of the government and don’t go out of your homes.)
Zubiri earlier advocated that testing kits must be made available to all hospitals to prepare for the outbreak. So far, the Research Institute on Tropical Medicine (RITM) is the Philippines’ sole laboratory accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO) to test novel coronavirus samples.
At least half of senators have gone under self-quarantine, after Binay and Gatchalian did.
Senator Bong Go, meanwhile, was exposed to a coronavirus patient on March 5 as well. He had himself tested on March 12 and his results turned out negative on March 13. A day after that, on Saturday, March 14, he held a mass gathering to distribute aid in Butuan City.
As of Monday afternoon, there are 140 coronavirus cases in the Philippines, 12 of whom have died. – Rappler.com