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Senator Pimentel tests positive for novel coronavirus

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SENATE PRIB

ANOTHER Philippine senator has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the second senator to get infected.

Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III on Wednesday said he had taken the test on March 20 and got the result on Tuesday.

The lawmaker said he had tried his best to limit his movement since Congress went on a break on March 11.

“I have quarantined myself upon the doctor’s advice and consistent with the protocol,” he said in a mobile-phone message.

Mr. Pimentel said he got the news on Tuesday evening, while he was in the hospital with his wife, Kathryna who was due to deliver their first child.

The Makati Medical Center accused the senator of exposing hospital staff to possible infection when he violated his home quarantine protocol.

“We denounce the irresponsible and reckless action of the senator,” the hospital said in an e-mailed statement. “He added to the burden of a hospital trying to respond in its most competent and aggressive manner to cope with the daunting challenges of this COVID-19 outbreak.”

“By his actions, he contributed no solution,” the hospital said. “In fact, he created another problem — for Makati Medical Center, the very institution which embraced his wife for obstetric care.”

Last week, Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said he had tested positive for the virus.

Several government officials including President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his family members, Cabinet secretaries and a number of senators had been criticized for getting tested even if some of them did not show symptoms.

The Department of Health earlier denied that they had given preferential treatment to local politicians in testing them for the virus.

Social media netizens have criticized lawmakers and other politicians for undergoing the tests.

The Health department earlier claimed the politicians had been eligible under old criteria that tested people who either had exposure or travel history.

It has since changed the criteria by prioritizing patients under investigation who are elderly, with underlying conditions and whose immune systems are compromised, it said.

Several senators got tested for the virus after attending a March 5 Senate hearing with a guest who later tested positive. Senators Sherwin T. Gatchalian and Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, who were both at the hearing, have tested negative.

The Senate building was disinfected shortly after Mr. Zubiri announced he was infected.

Worldwide, about 423,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, with almost 19,000 deaths. About 109,000 people have recovered from the virus.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island on March 16, suspending schools, work and public transportation to contain the outbreak. — Charmaine A. Tadalan





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