34 test positive for Covid-19 in mass testing of House members, staff | Inquirer News
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34 test positive for Covid-19 in mass testing of House members, staff

/ 11:16 AM January 31, 2021
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Plenary Hall of the House of Representatives.. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — Thirty-four members and employees of the House of Representatives have tested positive for Covid-19 during the chamber’s second mass testing held this month.

In a statement Sunday, House of Representatives Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said 34 individuals out of the 2,848 people who underwent a RT-PCR test tested positive for the virus during a second mass testing conducted among House members and employees last Jan. 18 to 27.

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The breakdown of the number of positive cases, however, was not provided.

Stricter protocols

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Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has ordered a stricter enforcement of health and safety protocols within the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, Mendoza said.

“Coronavirus cases in the House have been brought down quite remarkably but because of the new strain, we cannot be complacent,” Mendoza said.

“Speaker Velasco said we must continue or even intensify our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially now that a new variant of coronavirus is gaining a foothold in the country,” he added.

This, even if the second mass testing in the chamber yielded two-thirds less the number of positive cases in a previous mass testing conducted last November, according to the House secretary general.

He noted that 98 out of 2,000 House members and employees tested positive for coronavirus during the mass testing conducted last Nov. 10 to 20.

All 98 individuals who tested positive have since recovered, he added.

“This is equivalent to a positivity rate of only 1.19 percent, which is way below the 5 percent positivity rate recorded during the first mass testing,” Mendoza said.

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He attributed the decline in coronavirus cases in the House to the “effective implementation” of its Covid-19 management program using the tried-and-tested “test, trace and treat” approach.

Almost all cases in the second mass testing were asymptomatic, similar to the first mass testing, he added.

All those who tested positive were brought to isolation facilities to avoid possible transmission and immediate tracing of their close contacts was conducted, Mendoza said.

“Throughout the testing period, we were coordinating closely with our Barangay Health Emergency Response Team and followed DOH protocols,” he said.

Aside from regular testing, Mendoza said the House of Representatives has been implementing strict health protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in all the offices and buildings within the Batasan Complex.

Visitors are required to present a negative Covid-19 antigen test result before they are granted access to the offices inside the complex, he added.

Further, Mendoza said all those entering the House need to wear masks and face shields, pass through thermal scanners and disinfection machines, and observe physical distancing at all times.

House members, employees and guests are required to submit an accomplished health declaration form to inform the chamber of their health status before being allowed entry into the premises.

Cleaning and disinfection of all offices and buildings within the complex are done on a daily basis, Mendoza said.

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