Senate on total lockdown after three more senators catch COVID-19

Senate on total lockdown after three more senators catch COVID-19
During yesterday’s session, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri announced that “due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the last week, where we had three of our colleagues testing positive for COVID-19, the senators decided to tighten our health and safety protocols.”
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:51 a.m.) — Senate leadership ordered a total lockdown in the Upper Chamber's facility after Sens. JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay became the sixth and seventh senators to test positive for COVID-19 in the recent wave of infections spreading among the lawmakers.

"I have instructed the Secretariat to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection of all Senate offices. For this reason, there will be a total lockdown of our Senate building and all Senate employees shall work from home and need not report to the Senate on Monday. Senate sessions will resume on Tuesday," Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement sent to reporters Friday morning.

The Senate President also disclosed that besides the seven senators who tested positive in the last two weeks, several others were also exposed "due to their staff members and members of the Secretariat catching the virus."

Binay in a message to media said she transmitted the pathogen after "more than two years of consciously observing all protocols to avoid the virus."

"I am currently at home under self-isolation, and strictly following recommended protocols, including health and safety procedures," she said.

Ejercito made the announcement on his official Facebook page but said he was still asymptomatic.

"I am okay. I even biked on the way to the RT-PCR test yesterday," Ejercito said in Filipino in a text message to reporters.

On Thursday night, the media relations office of Sen. Joel Villanueva also sent reporters a photo of positive RT-PCR test results.

At the Senate plenary session earlier Wednesday, Zubiri also disclosed that Sen. Grace Poe was also recovering from COVID-19 and would not be present at the session.

The week before, Sens. Imee Marcos, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Cynthia Villar all tested positive for the virus, prompting Zubiri to implement a minor lockdown in the Senate for the time being.

“We will receive no guests for three weeks except for resource persons which will be limited to three per agency/organization. The others could participate remotely,” the Senate President said then.



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