Nearly entire COVID-19 task force goes on quarantine after contact with carriers
MANILA, Philippines—Health protocol is forcing nearly the entire leadership of a national task force against COVID-19 to direct the battle against the highly contagious disease from the safety of their homes or offices, where top officials and generals will self-isolate after exposure to carriers.
It was akin to enemy infiltration though the enemy, in this case, is an invisible one.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday (March 27) announced that he would go on self-quarantine for 14 days because he had contact with Armed Forces chief Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., who tested positive for COVID-19.
Lorenzana also chairs the National Action Plan (NAP), the government’s larger response to complement the efforts of the Department of Health (DOH).
“I have no symptoms, but protocol says I have to self-quarantine for 14 days,” said the defense chief, who started his quarantine on Friday.
Santos, as AFP chief, is in charge of keeping peace and order in the enforcement of a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine and similar, sometimes more extreme, measures taken by local governments.
The AFP chief would work from home from March 27 to April 10. He will be assisted by AFP vice chief Vice Adm. Gaudencio Collado Jr. and deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Erickson Gloria, said AFP public affairs officer Capt. Jonathan Zata in a statement.
Santos, who is currently asymptomatic, said he believed that he caught the virus from a senior officer who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
This means that several officers and other personnel at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo may have placed themselves on quarantine, too, as a precaution.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who is vice chair of the NAP and the head of the National Incident Command, also placed himself on home quarantine starting Wednesday (March 25), after contact with Santos and Rep. Eric Go Yap, who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Yap was at Malacanang on Saturday.
Año assured that the operations of the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police would not be paralyzed.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., who was designated as chief enforcer of the NAP, is also on quarantine after being exposed to Yap.
On Saturday (March 21), he was also with AFP chief Santos, Lorenzana, and Año at the Villamor Air Base, during the turnover of donations from the Chinese government.
Other officials who were exposed to Yap were Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Bong Go.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III still remains on self-quarantine, although he has tested negative for COVID-19 as of Saturday night. He was earlier in close contact with a COVID-19-positive official.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Ricardo Jalad has also placed himself on a 14-day quarantine starting Friday after learning that he was exposed to a COVID-19 infected person in recent days.
Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the policy-making body for the COVID-19 response, earlier said task force members will conduct meetings through teleconference instead of physical meetings.
Edited by TSB
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