MANILA, Philippines — It’s all up to President Duterte if he will take a second coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test, the spokesman of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said Wednesday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles issued the statement after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, an ITF member, announced he was infected by the respiratory disease.
Año is the first member of the Duterte Cabinet to be infected by COVID-19.
In a virtual briefing, Nograles explained that it is also up to IATF members if they want to undergo COVID-19 testing.
“Kanya-kanyang desisyon po ‘yan kung depende sa kanyang karamdaman,” Nograles said.
“Nasa membership na po ng IATF kung magpapa-test ba sila o hindi, depende sa kanilang karamdaman,” he added.
But Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Duterte’s former special assistant, said it is the President’s doctor who will decide whether or not the chief executive will take another test.
Duterte tested negative for COVID-19 more than two weeks ago, after some Cabinet members went on self-quarantine after exposure to an infected individual.
The Department of Health (DOH) recently drew flak for supposedly prioritizing politicians and government officials, including their asymptomatic family members, for the COVID-19 testing over patients under monitoring and investigation for the disease amid the lack of sufficient test kits.
But the DOH said that “VIP treatment” for officials is not a policy but admitted that “courtesy” was extended to key government officials.
Meanwhile, Nograles said he has no plans to have himself tested for COVID-19 since he is not experiencing any symptoms. He also said that he has been in isolation for the past six days.
Año’s COVID-19 infection, according to the IATF spokesman, is “a painful reminder that the virus can infect anyone and is blind to age, gender, title, and station.”
“This sobering news also hammers home the point that those working and leading from the front, like Secretary Año, are the ones most vulnerable to the disease,” Nograles said in a statement.
To date, there are 2,084 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country as of Tuesday, 88 of whom have died while 49 recovered.