Oops! Lawmaker actually tested negative; AFP chief positive
It turned out that ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap didn’t get the virus at all.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) apologized to Yap on Friday for an “encoding error” that showed him testing positive for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19.)
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. has tested positive for the virus, while Sen. Manny Pacquiao was asked to go into self-quarantine by the village chair of the exclusive Barangay Dasmariñas in Makati City, following reports that a party Pacquiao recently hosted at his house had among its guests another positive case, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
In a statement, the RITM said Yap “remains negative of COVID-19.’’
“[W]e profusely and sincerely apologize to [him] for the unnecessary discomfort this incident has caused,” the institute said. “This isolated incident was brought about by an encoding error which was discovered late last night by the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the Department of Health (DOH)-RITM.”
“We maintain that our testing process is compliant with the World Health Organization protocol, and that our results remain accurate despite this incident,” it added.
In response, Yap said “it wasn’t easy but I wholeheartedly accept the apology of DOH-RITM.”
“This is just a clerical error and should not be taken against RITM,’’ the congressman said. “They did not err in processing my samples, and they did not err in analyzing my results. I thank God for this news but let us not keep our guards down.”
The party list representative, who heads the House appropriations committee, took part in Congress’ special session on March 23 which tackled the proposed special powers for President Duterte.
Last Saturday, Yap joined a meeting in Malacañang with congressional leaders and Cabinet members, who on Thursday said they would go into quarantine after Yap’s March 26 disclosure that he had tested positive for the virus.
Among those who attended that meeting were Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Bong Go.
The Presidential Security Group (PSG), which took Yap to task for ‘’misdeclaring” his physical condition before entering the Palace grounds, also required its personnel to go on “lockdown” following that meeting.
But following the RITM’s clarification on Friday, the PSG chief, Col. Jesus Durante, said “we are glad that his (Yap’s) tests turned out to be negative. Still the directive that all PSG personnel [would] undergo self-quarantine effective tomorrow remains.”
Asked if the PSG would still file charges against Yap, Durante said: “Yes. But if the investigation team recommends that it will be dropped, then so be it.”
Meanwhile, another House member, Bulacan Rep. Henry Villarica, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to House Secretary General Jose Luis Montales, Villarica received his test results from the RITM on Thursday, a week after he was admitted at an undisclosed hospital for pneumonia on March 18.
“His condition is stable,” Montales said of Villarica, who attended an event hosted by Baliuag Mayor Ferdinand Estrella on March 8. About a week later, the mayor announced that he was positive for the virus.
Before Villarica, there have been two reported deaths among the House employees.
Advice to Pacquiao
Seven senators have been on self-quarantine after being exposed to a resource speaker who had tested positive for the virus.
On Friday, it was Pacquiao’s turn to go into isolation upon the advice of Barangay Dasmariñas chair Rossana Hwang.
“You have been identified as a Person Under Monitoring … Many of your colleagues in [the] Senate have been identified to be COVID-19 positive,” Hwang said in a letter to Pacquiao. “For your own family and household, and community’s safety, please have yourself self-quarantined. STAY HOME. No one including any of your household can come out.”
“Please be [an] example,” she stressed.
Aside from Pimentel, other senators have have tested positive—Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sonny Angara.
AFP chief ‘in good health’
The AFP on Friday said Santos, chief of staff, had tested positive for the virus but he remained “well and in good health condition.’’
“He will be in his military quarters where he will continue the discharge of his duties and responsibilities,” the AFP said.
Santos was recently in contact with a newly promoted senior officer who later turned out to be positive for the coronavirus, it added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he too would be going on self-quarantine since “I had close proximity with [Santos] on two occasions.”
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also said she would go on self-quarantine after meeting with Santos on March 20.
According to the AFP, Santos was tested on March 23, the same day he went to Malacañang for a top-level meeting on COVID-19 containment measures. —WITH REPORTS FROM MARLON RAMOS, MELVIN GASCON, JEROME ANING, JULIE M. AURELIO AND CARLA P. GOMEZ
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