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Medialdea: Cabinet members to ‘stay away from each other’ for now

/ 03:47 PM March 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — As some Cabinet members opted to subject themselves to self-quarantine after reported interaction with alleged coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positive government official, members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s official family will have to “stay away from each other” in the meantime.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told reporters Thursday the Cabinet is now looking for an alternative way to communicate without having direct contact with each other to avoid the possible spread of SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease.

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Medialdea, as well as Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar have separately announced they will undergo the proposed 14-day isolation after they had close contact with a person – allegedly a high-ranking transport official – who tested positive for COVID-19 during the March 5 toll road inspection event in Caloocan City.

READ: LIST: Philippine gov’t officials who are on self-quarantine

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“We just have to stay away from each other. Telepono na lang (Maybe just through telephone), text-text. Naghahanap kami ng sistema na pwede kami mag (We are looking for a system where we can do) teleconferencing,” Medialdea said.

However, he noted that there will be no changes in the activities of the executive department.

“Yung ano lang, ‘yung mga movements ng mga tao, siyempre (Just the movements of the people, of course). You have to restrain your movements, maraming activities – konti na lang ngayon ‘di tulad dati (many activities – now fewer unlike before),” he said.

Tugade earlier bared he and his colleagues might have been exposed to the COVID-19 infected person on March 5, during the President Rodrigo Duterte-led inspection of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Harbor Link C3-R10.

The Executive Secretary stressed though that they had no direct contact with the alleged COVID-19-positive individual.

“Wala naman contact na ano (There was no contact of sorts). Dumaan lang siya, bumati siya (He just passed by, he greeted us). May distance naman eh (There was distance). Ako may distance kaming dalawa, four, three meters, kawayan lang (Between us there was distance, four, three meters, just waving at each other),” Medialdea said.

Duterte is set to undergo COVID-19 testing on Thursday afternoon. His spokesman Salvador Panelo said he is not exhibiting flu-like symptoms but will still take the test anyway to ensure he is healthy and fit to perform his duties. 

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To date, the Philippines has 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China’s city of Wuhan in Hubei province in late 2019. 

The virus causes mild symptoms such as fever and cough for most people but older adults with preexisting health conditions were more vulnerable to the virus, particularly those aged over 60 years old.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.

KGA

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