MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Representative Eric Go Yap of ACT-CIS Partylist “remains negative” for COVID-19, contrary to earlier reports saying he had contracted the novel coronavirus.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the research center of the Department of Health (DOH), apologized on Friday night, March 27, two days after the DOH informed him he was positive for the virus.
“We wish to publicly apologize to Cong. Eric Go Yap of ACT-CIS Partylist for forwarding a report of his COVID-19 results that displayed a clerical oversight. Rep. Yap remains negative of COVID-19,” the RITM said in a statement.
“His results are by no means a false positive. This isolated incident was brought about by an encoding error which was discovered late last night (March 26) by the Molecular Biology Laboratory (MBL) of the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM),” the statement continued.
The fact remains, however, that Yap, who chairs the House appropriations committee, broke his quarantine, and exposed several high-level government officials in the process.
While he was a person under investigation from March 10 to 25, the congressman attended a number of gatherings, including the House’s 17-hour special session on Monday, March 23, and a meeting in Malacañang with several Congress leaders and Cabinet members on Saturday, March 21
‘Not a cause for celebration’
In a statement sent to reporters, Yap said he was glad that his result came back negative.
“Inaamin ko (I admit), the past 48 hours [have] been very hard for me and for everyone around me. Naiintindihan ko (I understand that) they are the busiest medical facility in the country right now,” Yap said.
However, Yap said this recent development is “not a cause for celebration” given that millions of Filipinos are now suffering due to the crisis.
“I will not harbor hard feelings towards anybody and I urge everybody to stay home and keep safe from this virus,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yap advised the public to stay vigilant and asked for the public's cooperation in containing the spread of the disease.
PSG personnel still in quarantine
On Thursday, March 26, Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander Colonel Jesus Durante said that they would consider filing a case against Yap for failing to disclose important information in the declaration form that all Palace guests were required to fill out as a precautionary measure amid the coronavirus outbreak.
After learning about the incident, Durante told reporters Friday night that “all PSG personnel to undergo self-quarantine effective tomorrow remains.”
In a statement sent to media, Malacañang said it is pleased to hear about Yap's negative result.
“While the erroneous reporting of Cong Yap’s COVID-19 positive has caused alarm and anxiety to those who had close physical contact with him and made them undergo self-quarantine, nevertheless such good news is welcome,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
The Palace, however, appealed to the RITM “to be more certain of the test results before releasing them to the patients or their doctors to avoid such unfortunate incident.”
As of Thursday, 3 Philippine senators have tested positive for the virus: Senators Migz Zubiri, Koko Pimentel, and Sonny Angara.
Philippine military chief General Felimon Santos Jr also tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, prompting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was in close contact with Santos on several occasions, to go on self-quarantine.
The coronavirus outbreak has prompted the government to place Luzon on lockdown until April 12, and Metro Manila until April 14, unless ended earlier or extended, depending on the situation in these areas.
As of Friday, the Philippines has 803 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 54 deaths and 31 recoveries. – Rappler.com