Budget chief Avisado goes on sick leave after bout with COVID-19

Budget chief Avisado goes on sick leave after bout with COVID-19
This undated photo shows Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, who is on a two-week medical leave beginning August 2.
The STAR / file

MANILA, Philippines — Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado will take a two-week medical leave starting Monday, August 2, his agency announced. 

The Department of Budget and Management in a statement last night cited Avisado's recent bout with COVID-19 for his move until August 13.

It was not immediately clear when the 68-year-old contracted the disease. But DBM said he was hospitalized for eight days and was in quarantine for over a month.

Avisado was also told by his physician to undergo a series of tests, "as it has been 14 years since he's been undergoing a quadruple open heart bypass," the agency added.

The budget chief is among the several Cabinet secretaries of the Duterte administration to have caught the COVID-19.

In the past, there were secretaries Leonor Briones (Education), Mark Villar (Public Works and Highways), Eduardo Año (Interior), Ramon Lopez (Trade), and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. 

DBM said Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie Canda would function as officer in charge during the next two weeks. 

Avisado's medical leave came as government scrambles to look for additional funds for the millions affected by stricter quarantine classifications this month.

Metro Manila, home to 13.4 million people, will revert to enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20.

Palace last week said it was uncertain if government could sustain financial aid for a wider lockdown such as that in the capital region. 

The tightening of curbs, seen to bring economic losses and unemployment anew, was ordered as health authorities reported more cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

By last week, the count of infections from the highly transmissible variant stood at 216, but officials have yet to confirm if there is now community transmission. 

Still, DBM sought to assure that it remains committed to "promoting the efficient and effective management of the national budget to support its budget priorities, especially in the midst of the pandemic."

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