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Half of senators in self-quarantine due to coronavirus threat

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – More senators will go into voluntary quarantine a day after two of their colleagues took the same step upon learning that a guest at a Senate hearing they atttended tested positive for COVID-19.

The following senators will be in self-quarantine as they were in close proximity to either Senator Sherwin Gatchalian or Senator Nancy Binay, who announced on Wednesday, March 11, that they would begin isolating themselves that night following their exposure to the patient on March 5:

Tolentino said he would have a checkup on Thursday, while Angara said he would be in self-quarantine starting Friday, March 13, as he had engagements to attend on Thursday.

"No public events for now," Recto told reporters in a text message, adding that was "okay" and had a "good immune system." He said he was doing some "reading, exercising, farming."

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, said he started isolating himself since Tuesday, March 10, as one of his staff members was exposed to a COVID-19 patient.

"My staff member thankfully tested negative but we have opted to remain indoors as an added measure," Pangilinan said.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said that she was not exposed to the patient, but she would observe social distancing just to be sure." Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would do the same.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, who had been exposed to a coronavirus patient along with President Rodrigo Duterte, will undergo testing on Thursday. He said, however, that he would not place himself under quarantine yet.

"Work muna (I'll work first)," Go said.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa had yet to decide yet if he would start isolating himself. "Semi-self-quarantined naman ako dahil naka-recess naman kami (I am partly self-quarantined because Congress is on recess)."

Senators Pia Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel III  said they would work from home. 

The Senate was placed under "restricted access" and was sanitized on Thursday. Congress will be on break starting March 14 until May 3.

The Philippines has 49 confirmed cases as of Wednesday night. Two of them died – a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, China, on February 1; and a 67-year-old Filipina on March 11.

Duterte declared a state of public health emergency on Monday, March 8. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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