Palace: Duterte in 'perpetual isolation', in the country


MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Security Group has been keeping President Rodrigo Duterte in "perpetual isolation" to protect him from COVID-19, the Palace said Monday over concerns that he may have come in contact with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año who has tested positive for the disease.

The Palace's reassurance comes a day after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque refuted chat group rumors that Duterte had left the country for Singapore, saying "there is no truth that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte left the country this weekend."

He said the chief executive "is in the Philippines and closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the country."

Roque said Monday that the PSG has been making sure that nobody comes too close to the president. "Much as he wanted, for instance, to shake the hands of those present during his fifth State of the Nation Address, the PSG discouraged [Duterte] from doing so as part of precautionary measure of maintaining physical distance," he said.

Roque added the president regularly takes a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test to check for COVID-19.

Año announced Sunday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government chief was among the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease members at a meeting with the president on August 10. Part of the meeting was televised as a presidential address to the nation. 

The interior secretary disclosed this in a statement sent to reporters on Sunday morning. 

In a statement, Año said that he "began experiencing flu-like symptoms including a sore throat and body aches" on Thursday, August 13, after which he once again began self-quarantine and took a PCR test the following day. 

"Last night, August 15, I received my test result informing me that I am once again positive for COVID-19," he said Sunday as he urged those who have come into contact with him "to go on self-quarantine, observe any symptoms in accordance with DOH guidelines, and take appropriate action." 

Roque stressed Monday that the PSG "has done a really good job in making sure that no one really comes close to the president." 

"This is in reference to the social distancing of one meter to two meters health experts required us to observe as part of the minimum public health standards," he also said.

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