FIFTEEN presidential security guards have caught the coronavirus, their chief said on Thursday, adding that they had not been in close contact with President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

All the guards have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and did not show symptoms, Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, who heads the Presidential Security Group (PSG), told reporters. The guards got tested after the holiday break, he added.

“They are not in any way detailed with the President,” the PSG later said in a statement, adding that it adheres “to the highest standards” of protecting the 76-year-old Duterte. “Your PSG assures the public that we are fit and able to protect the President so he can continue his mandate to serve this nation.”

President Duterte, 76, has said he has Barrett’s esophagus and Buerger’s disease. He got his second Sinopharm vaccine dose in July.

At least three Cabinet officials have been under quarantine after being exposed to staff and housemates who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana and vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. did not physically attend a weekly meeting with Mr. Duterte this week.

Mr. Duque, who attended the meeting virtually, said at the meeting aired on Tuesday night he was set to undergo a coronavirus test on Wednesday.

Mr. Lorenzana said four of his housemates had caught the virus, while Mr. Galvez said 15 staff members tested positive.

National police chief Dionardo B. Carlos has also tested positive for the coronavirus. — NPA