PH government agencies shut down for COVID-19 disinfection after officials exposed to virus-positive patient

Photo: Jonathan Cellona / ABS-CBN News" width="100%" />
A view of the Philippine Central Bank Photo: Jonathan Cellona / ABS-CBN News

Several government agencies in Manila today announced that they have temporarily suspended operations to disinfect their facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after the country’s top economic officials came in contact with an infected person.

The offices include the Department of Finance (DOF), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The DOF said in its statement today that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez attended a meeting last week with an individual who later tested positive for COVID-19. The agency noted that Dominguez is “feeling well and is asymptomatic,” but as a safety measure, the finance secretary has put himself in preventive isolation, as have officials and staff who were in direct contact with him.

Secretary Dominguez has also ordered the aforementioned DOF-attached agencies to thoroughly disinfect their premises. He said work at the DOF “will resume when the disinfection is completed,” and after they get the go-ahead from the Department of Health (DOH).

Dominguez is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief economic manager, which could explain why the president wants to be tested for COVID-19 as a pre-emptive measure, despite not displaying symptoms.

The BSP, on the other hand, said that while its head office will be closed today until tomorrow to facilitate the disinfection, normal market operations and servicing of cash withdrawals at banks will continue.

The GSIS, meanwhile, advised pensioners and its insurance members to carry out their transactions through the agency’s online platforms in the meantime, and appealed for everyone’s understanding and cooperation.

The Manila headquarters of the ADB advised its staff to work from home today “following advice that a visitor to the bank has tested positive” for COVID-19.

“The bank’s Manila headquarters facility will be closed from March 12 to undertake cleaning and disinfecting. Bank operations will continue. The ADB management will make a decision in the coming days on when to reopen the bank premises,” Deborah Stokes, ADB Vice President for Administration and Corporate Management said.

Read: Duterte to get tested for COVID-19, senators Gatchalian and Binay go into quarantine

Meanwhile, CNN Philippines reports that a Philippine transport official has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first time a government official in the country was reported to have been infected with the virus. However, it is unclear whether the official is among the 49 cases earlier confirmed by the health department.

In its statement today, the DOTr said that it has similarly shut down its offices for disinfection in observance of protocols set by the DOH. It noted that some of its officials, including Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, have already put themselves under self-quarantine.



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