The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Supreme Court has increased to 61 as of Wednesday, March 24, according to 3 Rappler sources privy to the information.
Rappler reported 60 Wednesday afternoon, based on sources. Court Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka confirmed it and said that as of 7:45 pm, there were already 61 active cases.
Two employee unions of the High Court had requested for a lockdown.
The Court en banc agreed in its Tuesday, March 23, session to scale down to less than 30% manpower, said one of the sources, which Hosaka also confirmed in his evening message to reporters. He said this scaling down would last at least until March 26.
“Discretion is given to the different heads of office to determine this. The SC and our courts did not close even during the height of the lockdowns last year. We only adjusted the number of employees physically reporting in order to make sure that we continue being accessible to the people,” said Hosaka.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court Public Information Office livestreamed a testimonial event for retiring Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta held indoors. The video has been deleted as of Wednesday 5 pm.
All forms of mass gathering are prohibited in Metro Manila as per the government’s latest restrictions because of the new surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The new restrictions took effect Monday, March 22, yet the Supreme Court still held an in-person farewell flag ceremony for Peralta in the open grounds of the Court attended by no less than 25 people.
The Supreme Court extended to April 16 its scaling down of courts in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – areas under the so-called “NCR Plus.”
These courts will maintain a skeleton force “which may be less than 30%” as long as it’s “sufficient to attend to all urgent matters,” according to the latest circular by the Office of the Court Administrator.
The Supreme Court’s neighbor, the Department of Justice, locked down last week as their COVID-19 cases reached 45. They resumed on-site work Wednesday, but only at a 30% capacity. – Rappler.com