3 Executive officials under quarantine after COVID contact

AT LEAST three Cabinet officials were under quarantine after being exposed to staff and housemates who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana and vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. did not physically attend a weekly meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte this week.

Mr. Duque, who attended the meeting virtually, said at the meeting aired on Tuesday night he was set to undergo a coronavirus test on Wednesday. “I’ll be under quarantine until the eighth, or 10 days in all,” he said, adding that he did not have any symptoms.

Mr. Lorenzana said four of his housemates had caught the virus, while Mr. Galvez said 15 staff members tested positive.

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has ordered the railway sector to undergo antigen testing and RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests for those who will test positive.

“Antigen testing and confirmatory RT-PCR testing will continue for the rest of the week until all personnel are tested,” he said in a statement.

Metro Rail Transit Line 3, Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 and the Philippine National Railways were also advised to limit interactions between station workers and passengers as a health protocol.

“In MRT-3, all passenger-facing personnel are required to wear full personal protective equipment (face mask, face shield, gloves and gowns) to avoid contact between themselves and passengers,” Mr. Tugade said.

“Regular temperature checking on all entry points is also observed. Disinfection of all facilities is also religiously followed.”

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John R. Batan told CNN Philippines on Wednesday 931 MRT-3 workers had undergone antigen tests as of Tuesday. He added that 146 had tested positive, while 41 were confirmed positive using RT-PCR tests.

MRT-3 operations had not been affected, he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin