Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday confirmed that Senators Win Gatchalian and Nancy Binay were negative for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
This, after Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri. tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said seven senators were tested Tuesday for the coronavirus disease.
Aside from Sotto, also tested were Senators Pia Cayetano, Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Ramon Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino and Panfilo Lacson.
Duque said if not for the limitations on testing, he would like a “repeat test” on Zubiri since it’s not really 100 percent.
“Meron din kahit papaano na nakalulusot na mga false positive. Gusto kong paulit ito,” Duque said.
He said it is important that the senator first goes on a home quarantine. “He has to finish the (remaining) 10 days. What is important, he has no symptoms.”
Zubiri welcomes a new test for the virus as mentioned by Duque.
“I welcome that very much. In my researches during this period of self isolation, I’ve read that there are similar patients that had my experience of being positive but asymptomatic and others that had mild symptoms only,” he said.
Zubiri said, just to be 100 percent sure, he is very open to being tested again.
The senator said he feels fine– no fever, no body aches, no persistent coughs. “I can consider myself lucky.”
“But the happiest moment of my life is on the news that my wife Audrey, the Love of my life and mother of my three small children, tested negative for the virus. Thank you God above for that. I’m happy that my family is now safe and will continue their self quarantine till this pandemic is over,” Zubiri said.
Sought for confirmation if he had gone to Hong Kong amid the corona virus outbreak, Zubiri clarified he and his wife went there early January before COVID-19 became a serious scare and still no travel bans at that time.
He insisted the Hong Kong trip has nothing to do with his current condition as it happened two and a half months ago.
“If I got infected, it was during this last two weeks of work at the Senate, wherein we were exposed to a lot of visitors from the councilors leagues and mayor leagues as well and possibly during the CA (Commission on Appointments) confirmations,” he said.
“I can only see the possibility being this last two weeks of work,” he said.
Duque said Zubiri had subjected himself to a test because he was with Gatchaliam and Binay who were exposed to one resource person who was tested positive for COVID-19. The later remains confined at the Manila Doctors Hospital.
The 72-year old COVID-19 positive patient was a resource speaker during last March 5 Senate education committee hearing chaired by Gatchalian.
The 67-year old wife of the resource speaker succumbed to massive pneumonia at the Manila Doctors Hospital after being infected with COVID-19 while confined at the Manila Doctors Hospital.
“But the test results of Senators Nancy and Gatchalian were negative,” said Duque while noting that he already talked to Zubiri and told him to proceed with his quarantine.
He said the Senate leader is being monitored by the DOH National Capital Region office twice a day.
Both Gatchalian and Binay said they can now have a sigh of relief after their tests yielded negative results.
In a statement, Gatchalian said he is happy to hear Duque’s pronouncement about his condition. He submitted himself to COVID-19 test last Friday.
“Having surpassed this, rest assured that my office will continue to function pursuant to the guidelines and protocols set on an enhanced community quarantine,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done especially in the middle of this crisis while the number of infected cases continues to rise. We must pool our resources together to fight this dreaded virus,” added Gatchalian who said he is now ending his self-quarantine.
He also exhorted the public to heed the guidelines laid down by the government to prevent the increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases.
Binay, on the other hand, said she will continue with her 14-day quarantine.
“Our fight against COVID-19 is not yet over, and we don’t want to have a false sense of security,” said Binay.
She reminded the public to stay at home, practice social distancing and handwashing for 20 seconds.
She emphasized that COVID-19 is a serious matter. “Let’s take the necessary precautions in protecting ourselves for the sake of our families and everyone else,” said Binay.
In his earlier message sent to Senate reporters and posted on his Facebook account, Zubiri said he was tested positive for COVID-19.
Zubiri said Duque informed him Monday afternoon about his condition.
“My heart sank with what he had said but Im uplifted with the fact that i am asymptomatic and have no fever or cough nor am i weak or have any headaches,” said Zubiri.
He said his decision to self quarantine last Wednesday evening after session was the best decision he made and could have protected his family from contamination.
As one of those very early on in the Senate who espoused and advocated for stronger government response on controlling COVID-19, Zubiri said he was very careful in his dealings with people at work in the Senate.
The Senate leader said he practiced social distancing as well as a no handshake policy but yet he got contaminated. So he did not know how he contracted the virus./Stacy Ang