Malacañang’s main palace, Senate to be disinfected as officials go on self-quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 11) — Malacañang's main palace will be closed for disinfection after several Cabinet members go on self-quarantine due to COVID-19.

The Senate will also close down after a resource person at a Senate hearing tested positive for COVID-19, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.

Sotto's announcement came after Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay decided to go on self-quarantine, after they found out that one of the resource persons at a March 5 hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture tested positive for COVID-19.

Both senators have also asked their staff to go on self-quarantine.

Gatchalian said that he is asymptomatic and feels healthy, but would nonetheless go into self-quarantine as he interacted with the COVID-19 patient during the hearing.

"With close to 50 people already been tested positive, it only shows that the exposure to the virus is real, and there's a high chance that someone out there is a carrier," Binay said in a statement.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade are also going on self-quarantine after they interacted with people who have the viral disease.

Dominguez has not shown any symptoms and has also not interacted with President Rodrigo Duterte since, a source told CNN Philippines.

Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Secretary and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President Vince Dizon will also be on self-quarantine as a precautionary measure following his exposure to a COVID-19 patient, BCDA said. 

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno will also go on self-quarantine after he returns to the country following his trip to the United Kingdom.

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 can spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth when people infected with the virus coughs.

The Philippines has reported that 49 people have caught COVID-19, with two Chinese nationals who were infected having recovered and another Chinese national dying.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has killed more than 4,200 people, mostly in China, since the outbreak began in Wuhan City in Hubei province in December last year. It has infected over 118,000 people globally.

According to the WHO, the most commonly reported symptoms are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. WHO said 8 in 10, or around 80 percent, of infected patients experience "mild illness" and eventually recover from COVID-19. Some 14 percent experience severe illness while 5 percent were critically ill, the WHO said.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.