A female diplomat from the Philippines mission to the United Nations was tested positive for the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) last Thursday, a note sent to U.N. missions said.
The U.N. Philippines mission also implemented a lockdown due to the case.
The note from the U.N. makes the Filipino diplomat the first known case at the U.N., New York headquarters.
“As of today, the Philippine Mission is in lockdown, and all personnel are instructed to self-quarantine and to seek medical attention should they develop the symptoms. We are assuming that all of us have been infected,” a report, quoting Philippines acting UN Ambassador Kira Azucena, said.
Azucena said the diplomat was last seen at the UN headquarters on Monday for about half an hour when she was asymptomatic.
There are about 12 diplomats at the Filipino mission, which is on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
The Filipino diplomat represented the Philippines in the United Nations General Assembly’s legal affairs committees.
Azucena said the diplomat came down with flu-like symptoms on Tuesday and visited her doctor. “She got the call today that she tested positive for COVID-19,” Azucena said on Thursday.
For his part, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the diplomat is doing well and now taking doctor prescribed medicines.
“The infected is doing well; she’s young, spritely, smart and taking some doctor prescribed meds. Thank you. I just talked to Kira,” he said on Twitter.
“It was after celebrating her birthday with friends during a light rain and she’d just come from Florida,” he said.
The United Nations began implementing COVID-19 prevention measures at the U.N. headquarters.
A two-week conference on women’s rights was cut to one day, several other planned large conferences canceled, most smaller meetings cut, UN missions asked to limit the number of diplomats they send to meetings, and at least half the several thousand U.N. staff who normally work in the building will be working from home by next week.
The World Health Organization has described the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic./Stacy Ang