DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa, and Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo have tested negative for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid the increasing number of Filipinos infected by the virus.
“Guys, my test came out today. I am negative of the COVID virus. On the advice of the doctor, I will complete my quarantine until April 6,” Lorenzana told reporters on Tuesday night.
Several key officials recently tested positive for the deadly disease, including Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) which is leading government efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.
Lorenzana appealed to the public to pray for Año who had contact with four COVID-positive persons including AFP chief Gen. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr who confirmed his infection on Friday last week.
Bacordo, who had been in contact with Santos, another senior military officer, and Senators Miguel Zubiri and Aquilino Pimentel III, said his COVID-19 test showed he is free of the virus.
Bacordo said he completed his self-quarantine on Monday and he visited Navy personnel manning checkpoints in Marikina City the following day.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the COVID on Gamboa was conducted about two weeks ago and the result came out recently.
“He is on duty, up and running the entire affairs of the PNP amid the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). He remains healthy but adapting strict biosafety measures,” he said.
Army spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala said Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay did not undergo a COVID test but went on self-quarantine. He said Gapay was in contact with Santos on March 16 during an IATF meeting.
“He is okay. He is doing well but he chose to go on quarantine. He will finish it on April 10,” said Zagala.
Air Force spokesman Maj. Aristides Galang said Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes has been on home quarantine since March 24. He could not immediately say if Paredes underwent COVID-19 test but said the Air Force chief “is in good health and continues to perform his duties and responsibilities from his military quarters.”
Galang said Paredes was exposed to two COVID-positive military officers, including Santos.
Paredes and Santos were among officials who received P200 million worth of medical equipment donated by a Filipino-Chinese businessman, on March 21 at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Galang said Paredes also had a contact with an unnamed senior military officer who likewise tested positive for COVID-19, during a brief courtesy call with Santos on March 12 in Camp Aguinaldo.
Philippine Coast Guard commandant Adm. Jose Garcia has also gone on home quarantine, said PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo.
Balilo could not immediately say if Garcia underwent COVID-19 test.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, concurrent IATF-EID spokesman, said Wednesday Malacañang leaves to officials who had contact Año the decision to undergo COVID test or go on self-quarantine.
Nograles also said the case of Año is a “painful reminder that the virus can infect anyone and is blind to age, gender, title, and station.”
“This sobering news also hammers home the point that those working and leading from the front, like Secretary Año, are the ones most vulnerable to the disease. This recent development also emphasizes the need for all of us to act responsibly in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our time,” he said.
Nograles said he has not taken the COVID test but went on self-quarantine starting March 26.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who has attended meetings with Año, said he will not yet take the test because he has not shown any symptom and has been practicing social distancing and attending meetings through teleconferences.
Sen. Christopher Go on Tuesday night said neither he nor President Duterte are planning to take a second COVID test for now.
San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said Wednesday he tested negative for COVID-19 but will complete his 14-day self-quarantine.
The AFP chief issued a memorandum on Tuesday, requiring all military and civilian personnel inside the Armed Forces general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, to wear face masks.
“This is to prevent and control the spread of the deadly disease inside the AFP General Headquarters. The measure being implemented seeks to avert an individual, especially both symptomatic and asymptomatic, from spreading saliva droplets into the air or on any surface,” said AFP public affairs chief Capt. Jonathan Zata.
Zata said personnel not wearing masks will be denied entry at the camp effective Thursday.
“The initiative will be replicated as needed in other military camps and facilities nationwide. This is part of the AFP’s measures in protecting its members not only in the frontlines but also those who are still performing administrative duties inside camps,” said Zata. — With Jocelyn Montemayor and Christian Oineza