Marcos ends isolation as COVID-19 cases spike
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will end his isolation on Sunday after he tested positive for COVID-19 for the third time last week, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil.
“As per Department of Health (DOH) guidelines, his five-day isolation period will end tomorrow, Sunday,” Garafil said in a Viber message on Saturday.
After contracting COVID-19, the President cancelled his trips to the Mindanao State University in Marawi City to visit the bombing victims there and those affected by the magnitude 7.4 earthquake in Surigao del Sur.
Also on Saturday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said on his fifth day of home isolation, the President has been free from cough, nasal congestion and fever for more than 24 hours.
“All other medical findings were unremarkable. Consequently, the President’s final diagnosis is ovid-19, recovered,” the PCO said.
“The isolation period concludes on December 10, 2023, with a recommendation for the President to wear face mask for 10 days during public engagements as a precaution,” the PCO added.
The President was last seen in public on Dec. 2 for the Family Day celebration of the Office of the President in Malacañang.
Mr. Marcos first contracted COVID-19 in March, 2020, following a trip in Spain. He tested positive again in July 2022, eight days after he was sworn into office.
Though not specified what particular strain Mr. Marcos contacted, the latest biosurveillance report of the DOH said the Omicron XBB sublineages remained the dominant COVID-19 strain in the country amid a reported uptrend in cases.
Of the 36 samples sequenced by different laboratories from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1, all were identified to the XBB sublineages. They were detected in only three regions — Metro Manila, Western Visayas and Davao.
Health spokesperson Enrique Tayag earlier confirmed the gradual rise of COVID-19 infections, noting that the DOH is monitoring whether the “new variants of interest” are behind the uptick in cases.
The World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have designated as “variant of interest” the BA.2.86, which was the latest COVID-19 strain in circulation that was assigned a category.
But to date, the BA.2.86 variant has not yet been detected in the Philippines, according to the DOH.
According to the case bulletin released last week, a daily average of 191 infections was recorded in the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, a 10-percent jump from the 174 cases reported in the previous week.
On Friday, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has reimposed the mandatory wearing of face masks within its facilities to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses in its facilities.
The announcement was made following the issuance of a Dec. 6 memorandum by Corrections Technical Senior Supt. Ma. Cecilia Villanueva, director of BuCor’s health and welfare services, directing on-duty personnel, visitors and counsel, as well as those entering Bucor buildings and camps and those with transactions in all BuCor offices to wear face masks at all times.
The policy came after the DOH reported rising cases of COVID-19 and influenza-like illnesses, and four confirmed cases of mycoplasma pneumoniae infection or “walking pneumonia” in the Philippines.
But the DOH clarified that all four cases of walking pneumonia had already recovered and that there was no present outbreak in the country.
Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa earlier also recommended the optional wearing of face masks especially for people who are considered high risk.
The DOH, however, maintained that hospital occupancy among COVID-19 cases remained at low risk.