Senator Juan Edgardo Angara is the third senator to test positive for COVID-19, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 707, with 45 deaths and 28 recoveries.
Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III also tested positive for the new coronavirus.
READ: Senator adds to 142 virus infections
In a statement, Angara said, “I regret to announce that today, March 26, I received my test result and it is positive for COVID-19.”
The senator said he has been feeling symptoms like mild fever, cough, headaches and general weakness.
“I have not been in contact with the public since taking the test last March 16,” he said as he asked for prayers from the public.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there was no need to disinfect the Senate premises again, since none of the three senators had gone there since the last session day.
Earlier this month, the Senate building was disinfected after a resource person who attended a March 5 Senate education committee hearing tested positive for the infectious disease. The wife of the resource speaker later died from COVID-19.
Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay, who attended the hearing, tested negative while other senators decided to go into self-quarantine.
On Thursday, Pimentel apologized to the Makati Medical Center (MMC) for breaching their safety protocols on COVID-19 when he accompanied his wife Tuesday night to the hospital for a scheduled caesarian operation set for 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
In his apology, Pimentel said he never meant to harm anyone and insisted he only knew the result of his COVID-19 test while he was already inside the premises of the MMC’s delivery room complex.
Pimentel has been roundly criticized on social media for endangering the health workers and other patients in the hospital by going there even though he knew he might have COVID-19.
“Once again, I would like to sincerely and profoundly apologize to the management and staff of the Makati Medical Center for this unfortunate incident. I never intended to do any harm to anyone,” Pimentel said in a statement.
“I shall be open to any communication the MMC would want to have with me about this. I just ask for everyone’s understanding and compassion and allow me first to recover from COVID-19,” he added.
The MMC earlier denounced Pimentel for breaching their safety protocols when he went to the hospital despite already experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and awaiting the results of a test he took on March 20.
Pimentel accompanied his wife, Kathryna to MMC around 6 to 7 p.m. on March 24.
Pimentel said at about 9 p.m., he received a call from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to inform him he was positive for COVID-19.
“I was already inside the hospital when I got the information. I immediately informed the OB-gyne doctor assisting my wife about the result and I then left the hospital premises,” he said.
He also said he was not coughing and didn’t have a fever in the time he was in the MMC premises. He was also wearing a face mask and gloves, he said.
“I never intended to breach any protocol but I realize now that my presence in MMC unnecessarily caused additional anguish and concern to the courageous frontline health workers we all depend on. I was simply there to be with my wife during the birth of our daughter,” he said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in an online press conference, said Pimentel had indeed violated the quarantine protocol.
Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos said her brother, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has taken the test for COVID-19 after coming from Spain and “feeling unwell.”
Rumors that Marcos had been intubated at a hospital in Taguig due to pneumonia persisted Wednesday but his sister said he was resting at home.
To dispel the rumors, his wife Liza Araneta-Marcos released a photo showing him sitting in bed smiling while holding a copy of the day’s newspaper.
“Don’t worry, I am doing ok and contrary to popular belief, I am home on self-quarantine,” the former senator said. “As my sister said, a few days ago I was feeling a little under the weather and as a result went to get checked. We are still waiting for the results.”
A member of Senator Pia Cayetano’s staff also tested positive for the virus.
Also on Thursday, veteran actor Domingo Cobarrubias died due to COVID-19, his wife said in a Facebook post. He was 68.
“Goodbye my love. Thank you for 30 wonderful years. I love you. Dear God please give me the strength to be able to face this very difficult moment of my life,” Cobarrubias’ wife Gina Jorge Cobarrubias said.
Rizal Gov. Rebecca Ynares also tested positive for COVID-19, her son said Wednesday.
Her son, former Antipolo Mayor Casimiro Ynares III said his mother is under quarantine and in stable condition. Her husband, former Rizal governor Casimiro Ynares is also under quarantine.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday confirmed that two of its personnel have tested positive for COVID-19.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the first patient is a 32-year-old police officer assigned in Metro Manila who has been on home quarantine since March 14.
The second patient is a 52-year-old police officer assigned in Laguna who earlier exhibited COVID-19 symptoms.
Both are being closely monitored by PNP doctors.
In a social media post, Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Carlos Padilla said the first case of COVID-19 in the province died a week before his test result arrived.
The patient died on March 19, but the results arrived only seven days later, while the body was in a freezer at the hospital morgue.
Health officials said contract tracing to identify persons who might have caught the virus has begun.
In related developments:
* A Supreme Court employee under Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier has tested positive for COVID-19, a Court official said Thursday. “We immediately informed and got in touch with all court personnel who may have had contact with the said staff of Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier,” SC Public Information chief and spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said, in a text message. Hosaka said he was not aware if any of the SC magistrates have undergone COVID-19 testing.
* Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday bewailed what he described as “sluggish” COVID-19 testing capacity of the Department of Health (DOH), even as the Food and Drug Administration approved 12 COVID-19 test kits for commercial use. These test kits are Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) based, which is the current recommended testing kit for COVID-19.
* Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro expressed frustration that up to this time the city cannot use its Molecular Laboratory and procure test kits as the DOH has yet to certify the local laboratory. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said that all local government units must first coordinate with the DOH before acquiring, purchasing or using testing kits within their respective territorial jurisdictions. With Rey E.Requejo, Nickie Wang, Abe AlmirolREAD: PH cases: 638, deaths: 38; provincial doctor new casualtyREAD: Local Roundup: P32-B budget sought to avoid food lack
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