Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said he is eyeing the conduct of virtual press briefings to ensure that the updates about President Rodrigo Duterte and Malacañang will not be disrupted over the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) threat.
He made this remark explaining that the Malacañang press briefing room, press working area, and other areas within the New Executive Building (NEB) will be closed down on Thursday (March 12) for disinfection.
Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, in separate statements, announced that they will go on self-quarantine after interacting with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19.
It remains unclear if they were exposed to the same individual.
Duterte is set to undergo testing for Covid-19, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, his former aide said.
Some members of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) and reporters who have interacted with the two secretaries also expressed willingness to undergo self-quarantine, he added.
He reminded employees that work from home arrangements in accordance with the guidelines released by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Civil Service Commission may be considered.
He also appealed to the public to be “understanding and cooperation” in taking the necessary precautions and in following safety protocols.
The PCOO Office of the Global Media Affairs has been holding virtual pressers to cater to journalists based abroad since 2019.
As of Wednesday, the DOH confirmed 49 positive cases of Covid-19 and its first Filipino fatality, a 67-year-old woman without any travel history from the affected country.
The Philippines is now under a state of public health emergency after the health department reported the first known local transmission.
The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 4,200 people and infected over 119,000 worldwide.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic which means a worldwide spread of a new disease.
In January, the WHO declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
Currently, the virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another — within about 6 feet — through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
However, the spread might be possible before people show symptoms. (PNA)