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Senators who came in contact with Zubiri no longer have to go on quarantine —DOH

People who had interacted with Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri need not go under quarantine, according to the Department of Health on Tuesday.

Zubiri, a COVID-19 survivor, tested positive for the virus again on Monday but yielded another negative result the following day.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, during the session, read a letter sent by Secretary Francisco Duque III.

"It should be reiterated that polymerase chain reaction is very sensitive and can detect the virus genetic materials' remnants. It is also best used for symptomatic patients due to the test's sensitivity, the PCR results of Zubiri can be remnants of the virus," Sotto read.

"Those who are close contacts of the senator need not necessarily be quarantined since this is not a true infection," the letter further stated.

As an added layer of protection, those who had contact with Zubiri were advised to optionally take another swab test five days after their last contact.

Before the letter has been read, Zubiri extended his apologies to his colleagues for whatever inconvenience he has caused for interacting with them and testing positive on Monday.

"With what happened yesterday, I unintentionally caused anxiety and perhaps even panic to some of my colleagues and workers of government in the Senate—not to mention the stress I caused my wife and children. My father and mother I thought were going to have a heart attack last night from the stress that they found out that I was again positive," he said.

"That’s why the DOH must come out with the right protocols dealing with recovered patients, so they won’t be discriminated on in the future," he added.

'Agimat, postponed anniversary date'

The senators were able to share light banters about the matter after learning earlier in the day that Zubiri tested negative for the virus in another swab test conducted by the Philippine Red Cross.

"You just saved Senator Drilon P3,500 because he was intending to have a swab test," Sotto told Zubiri, joking.

Zubiri closely interacted with Drilon during the session on Monday.

It was also revealed that Zubiri, Senators Sonny Angara, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Joel Villanueva, among others scheduled a small lunch date before the 5th State of the Nation Address—to belatedly celebrate Angara's birthday and to comfort Villanueva for his recent loss of mom and sister.

Poe jested that she and her husband had to spend their anniversary night apart because she had to self-isolate after the incident.

"It's quite a toll on me because I want to be obedient about the protocols but yesterday was the 29th wedding anniversary and when I got home I had to be isolated from my husband and sleep in separate rooms and I think that he's actually quite happy," she said, laughing.

Senator Bong Revilla, also present at the Senate on Monday, jested that COVID-19 is no match to his amulet.

"I just want to put on record na hindi ako natakot sa haching ni Majority Floor Leader. Hindi po ako tatablan niyan, may agimat ako, ipinamana na sa akin ng tatay ko," he said.

Kidding aside, Drilon stressed that the DOH must improve a lot more on its tracing, testing, treatment of COVID-19 patients in the country. —LDF, GMA News