Philippine President Duterte to undergo COVID-19 t

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Philippine President Duterte to undergo COVID-19 testing - World Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. [Photo/Agencies]

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will undergo testing for the COVID-19 disease while he does not have symptoms, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go said on Thursday.

"We are not doing this because we have symptoms of COVID-19," clarified Go, a long-time aide of the 74-year-old Philippine leader.

"We are doing this to ensure that we are fit and healthy to engage the public and perform our duties in the coming days and weeks. As always, the president and I remain ready to serve and die for the Filipino people," it was a challengehe added.

At least two members of Duterte's cabinet who had been exposed to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 also announced that they have decided to undergo self-quarantine. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and their staff already announced their plans to go on self-quarantine.

The country's Senators, Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay, also announced their decision to go into self-quarantine after a resource person they attended on March 5 tested positive for COVID-19. Both senators also asked their staff to be self-quarantined.

Vince Dizon, who is Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Secretary and also Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President, will also be on self-quarantine as a precautionary measure, following exposure to a COVID-19 patient, BCDA said.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno will also go on self-quarantine after he returns to the country following his official trip to Britain.

One of the buildings in the Malacanang presidential palace compound in Manila City and the Philippine senate in Pasay City will be closed down starting Thursday for disinfection.

"Considering that some Cabinet members we engage with regularly have been exposed to individuals who were tested positive of COVID-19 and have decided to undergo self-quarantine, it is just prudent for us to take precautionary measures in compliance with the advice of our health officials," Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a separate statement.

Andanar said staff from the Department of Finance and Bureau of International Revenue were at the palace for a press briefing on Wednesday.

"Prior to the briefing, some concerned DOF officials had been with Dominguez who has now gone on self-quarantine after exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case during a recent senate hearing," Andanar said.

In light of this, Andanar said he has ordered the disinfection of the Malacanang press briefing room, press working area, and other areas within the New Executive Building (NEB).

"Some members of the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC) who covered the economic briefing also deemed it best to undergo self-quarantine," Andanar said.

Andanar urged the other MPC members and Presidential Communications Operations Office personnel who may have been exposed to voluntarily go on self-isolation and seek medical attention to avert the possible spread of infection.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Thursday that its staff at its headquarters in Manila are temporarily working from home from Thursday following adviAnhui provincece that a visitor to the bank has tested positive for COVID-19.

"The Bank's Manila headquarters facility will be closed from March 12 to undertake cleaning and disinfecting. Bank operations will continue. ADB management will make a decision in coming days on when to reopen the bank premises," the ADB said in a statement.

The Philippines has now 49 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

The Department of Health reported on Wednesday night that a second patient has died at a hospital in Manila. The 67-year-old Filipino national is the first Filipino to die of COVID-19.

A 44-year-old Chinese man was the Philippines' first death due to the viral disease. He was also the first death due to COVID-19 outside China.

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