File photo shows Senator Pia Cayetano.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File
Staff member of Pia Cayetano tests positive for COVID-19
( - March 26, 2020 - 3:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — A staff member of Sen. Pia Cayetano tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, the upper chamber announced Thursday.

In a statement, Senate Secretary Myra Marie Villarica said the staff had no recent travel history but was infected by a “person close to her family.”

The staff of Cayetano last reported for work on March 11—the last day of session—but did not go to the plenary hall.

“She did not manifest any of the symptoms of COVID-19 then. It was only after March 11 that she exhibited mild symptoms,” Villarica said.

The Senate secretary added neither the patient nor the staff members who were in direct contact with her were required to report for the special session on Monday. Cayetano was one of the principal sponsors of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which granted President Rodrigo Duterte special authorities to respond to the new spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

“Rest assured that all measures are being undertaken by the Senate and the Office of Senator Cayetano to address the needs of the patient,” Villarica said.

The Senate medical team was ordered to begin contact tracing, impose quarantine measures and give assistance in the testing of the upper chamber’s employees as needed.

Three senators tested positive for COVID-19: Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.

Some senators have been on self-quarantine since early March after learning that a resource person at a committee hearing in the chamber was diagnosed with COVID-19.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS party-list) announced he was diagnosed to have COVID-19.

A staff member of an unidentified representative passed away on Saturday after he tested positive for the illness.

The new coronavirus has infected 636 people in the Philippines, 38 of whom have died. An additional 657 individuals are considered patients under investigation. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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