No House member who underwent self-quarantine due to possible exposure to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has so far been showing symptoms of the infection, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Monday.
"So far wala namang nagkaka-symptoms doon sa nag-self quarantine," Cayetano said at a press conference.
At least four lawmakers have subjected themselves under quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 patients.
Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, for one, decided to undergo self-quarantine after he interacted with Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who himself came in contact with a resource person in a Senate hearing who tested positive for COVID-19.
Navotas City Representative John Rey Tiangco and Valenzuela City Representative Eric Martinez, meanwhile, underwent self-quarantine after attending the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Harbor Link C3-R10 inspection last March 5 which a person who later tested positive for COVID-19 also attended.
Iloilo City Representative Julienne Baronda said she is also subjecting to home quarantine after being in the same room with Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on March 9 and March 10, respectively.
Both Avisado and Tugade also underwent self-quarantine over concerns of exposure to COVID-19, although they have already tested negative for the virus.
Cayetano's announcement came after the death of a House employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Cayetano, the said employee had been visiting the hospital frequently due to other underlying health conditions, and it was only recently that he was found positive to have COVID-19.
PBA party-list Representative Jericho Nograles has called on the House leadership to immediately conduct contact tracing at the chamber. He also urged his fellow lawmakers to be transparent with their staff and visitors regarding the development.
But Cayetano is convinced that the House leadership is fully transparent regarding the matter.
"I don't really understand what transparency he is asking for, unless he's not a member of the majority group. Because from the start, any rumor, nagpo-post kami. If he's asking for the name, then buksan niya ang TV niya kasi lahat hindi nire-release yung name for privacy issues," Cayetano said.
Cayetano assured the House leadership is proactive in informing possible contacts of the House employee, but not to the point that they would publicize such information.
"In case we have to do some tracing at kung sino ang kinamayan o nandoon, we will tell that person. But we will not tell everybody because that will just create panic," he said.
"I think nami-mistake ni Cong. Nograles ang transparency for protocol. There is a protocol how to do it. Nung may nag-positive, we traced, sinong mga opisina ang pumunta doon sa opisina niya, sino ang mga close contact? And we asked them to self-quarantine," he added.
As of the latest count of the Department of Health, there are 140 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the country, of which 12 have died.
As a precautionary measure, the House of Representatives conducted intensive cleaning and disinfection of its premises from Friday until Sunday.
Work at the House will also be suspended beginning Monday until April 12, consistent with the announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte. — RSJ, GMA News