Duterte in ‘perpetual isolation,’ undergoes regular COVID-19 RT-PCR tests — Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 17)— President Rodrigo Duterte is in “perpetual isolation” and has been undergoing regular real-time polymerase chain reaction tests for COVID-19, Malacañang said Monday amid concerns on his possible contact with virus-positive patients.

In his virtual media briefing from home, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured the Presidential Security Group has done a “good job” in ensuring Duterte’s safety, after it was revealed that a Cabinet official has contracted the coronavirus anew.

“There is a velvet rope that keeps him at least six feet away from everyone else. He’s in perpetual isolation, in the sense that the PSG has done a very good job in making sure that no one really comes close to the President,” Roque said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Sunday announced that he has again tested positive for COVID-19— more than four months after he first contracted the virus in late March.

This prompted Roque to observe self-isolation himself, as he revealed that he had close contact with Año during a plane ride earlier this month. He said he will isolate for five days, after which he will have himself tested via the RT-PCR method.

Roque stressed that the President is not considered a close contact— even with the Interior chief present during the latest COVID-19 Inter-Agency meeting— as officials have observed proper physical distancing and health protocols in the premises.

Ang Presidente naman po, technically wala siyang close contact… Malayo po kaming lahat kay Presidente, at naka-face shield at naka-face mask. Pero I believe the others po are also in self-isolation now,” the spokesperson said. Roque, however, did not mention names of other officials under isolation.

[Translation: The President technically did not have close contact. We’re all far from the President, and we all wore face shields and face masks. But I believe the others are also in self-isolation now.]

Año revealed that he began experiencing flu-like symptoms on August 13. He had himself tested for the virus the following day, and said he received the result that he was once again COVID-positive on August 15. The IATF’s last meeting was held on August 10.

Roque meanwhile said Monday’s IATF meeting— where recommendations for the new quarantine measures for Metro Manila and neighboring provinces are set to be finalized— will push through virtually.