‘Nakakabahala’: Senators hit Duque over false claims on COVID-19 contagion

Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday, May 21, hit Health Secretary Francisco Duque III over his claim that there’s no evidence that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 are not contagious. 

"Sobrang nakakabahala, Mr President, kung ang secretary of health na mismo ang nagpapakalat ng maling information tungkol sa COVID-19," Binay said during the virtual Senate hearing on coronavirus response.

(This is alarming, Mr President, if the secretary of health himself is spreading false information on COVID-19.)

Citing a situation report from the World Health Organization, Binay said the WHO didn't say that asymptomatic cases are not contagious. 

"There are few reports of laboratory-confirmed cases who are truly asymptomatic, and, to date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission. This does not exclude the possibility that it may occur," Binay said.

Binay was reacting to the statement made by Duque during the Senate hearing on Wednedsay, May 20, when she asked him about how the government would trace “silent spreaders" of the disease.

Asymptomatic patients are those who show no symptoms of COVID-19, such as difficulty in breathing, dry cough, or cold, the Department of Health (DOH) said. 

Very alarmed

Meanwhile, Senator Migz Zubiri said he was "very alarmed" over Duque's statement that the country is now in second wave of COVID-19 infections, going into 3rd. 

"We are the only country in the world that has admitted that we are [in] the 2nd wave," Zubiri said. 

Zubiri added that the first 3 coronavirus cases in the Philippines were "not even a ripple."

"How could that have been a wave?" Zubiri said. 

According to Zubiri, Duque's statements were "sowing panic amongst our people that we are [in] the second wave."

"They should be very careful with their statements," Zubiri said. 

Several government offiicials also contradicted Duque's statement. (READ: First wave, second wave? Duterte officials clash on where PH is in pandemic)

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said he did not know what the health chief was talking about.

As of Thursday, the Philippines recorded 13,434 cases of coronavirus infections, with 846 deaths and 3,000 recoveries. – Rappler.com



Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.