Senate tightens protocols vs COVID-19 after 3 members test positive in a week

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Senate tightens protocols vs COVID-19 after 3 members test positive in a week
Senate Secretary Renato Bantug Jr. and Dr. Cristeta Cocjin, head of the Senate Medical and Dental Services Bureau, check on the implementation of health protocols at the Session Hall as senators hold a plenary session Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Release / Senate PRIB / Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri announced tighter protocols against COVID-19 in the chamber on Wednesday after three senators contracted the disease in just a week.

Zubiri said beginning Monday, visitors would not be allowed to enter the Senate for three weeks unless they are resource persons to a committee hearing. Even then, they would have to present a negative RT-PCR test taken in the last 24 hours or an antigen test taken in the last 12 hours by a Department of Health-accredited facility.

Not all resource persons can enter, though, as senators agreed in a caucus that only two resource persons per agency or organization will be allowed entry into the Senate premises.

Senators also agreed to put a cap on how many staff members can assist them during committee hearings and plenary sessions, limiting it to just two per lawmaker, except for committee chairpersons who Zubiri said "obviously need a bit more staff."

Zubiri said they will also be limiting the number of people in elevators to just five at a time.

He said limiting visitors to the Senate would provide the chamber a "safety net" as COVID-19 cases are projected by the DOH and private think tank OCTA Research to peak in the next two weeks.

"We just want to be safe. We have members with comorbidities. We have staff with comorbidities," Zubiri said.

Sens. Alan Peter Cayetano, Imee Marcos and Cynthia Villar consecutively tested positive for COVID-19 in just a week, prompting senators to rethink their COVID-19 policies, which are considerably more lax compared to the protocols of the House of Representatives.



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