KEY OFFICIALS of the transportation department, including its Secretary, have quarantined themselves alongside other Cabinet officials following potential exposure at an event where one of the attendees is believed to have since contracted the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran said in a statement that “our officials led by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade have taken the initiative to place themselves under self-quarantine.” Those observing the quarantine include Ms. Libiran.
She said the self-quarantine is “in observance of protocols set by the Department of Health in the event of a possible exposure to Covid-19… In addition, the DoTr has also started the temporary closure of some of its offices and agencies for cleaning and disinfection.”
According to reports citing Mr. Tugade and Ms. Libiran, and confirmed by a DoTr source to BusinessWorld, the potential exposure happened at a March 5 inspection of the NLEx Harbor Link toll road, which was attended by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, and Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea; and officials of NLEx Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. including its chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan.
The Philippine National Railway also issued an advisory, saying: “In adherence to the protocols set by the DoH (Department of Health), the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will conduct cleaning and disinfecting of the PNR Executive Building from today March 12, 2020 until Sunday March 14, 2020. All office works are also suspended during the said period.”
Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go, a former aide to the President, announced late Wednesday that he and Mr. Duterte had opted to be tested for Covid-19.
Mr. Dominguez told reporters in a Viber group chat Wednesday evening: “I was told that a fellow I met with Thursday and Friday last week tested positive for Covid-19. I have no symptoms but am self-isolating until I get tested. You may wish to follow suit.” — Arjay L. Balinbin