Senate On Lockdown; Senators Win Gatchalian, Nancy Binay Under Self-Quarantine

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has reached the Senate of the Philippines and was locked down for disinfection today. On March 5, a resource person in a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture tested positive for COVID-19, which prompted Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay to go on self-quarantine since they were exposed to the said resource person. Gatchalian as committee chairman led the hearing, which Binay also attended.

Upon being informed by the resource person himself that he is positive for COVID-19, Gatchalian immediately issued a statement to announce that even though he is “asymptomatic and feels healthy”, he “will follow government-set protocols” to go into self-quarantine. The senator also said that he has instructed all his staff to do the same, particularly those who had direct contact with the resource person during the hearing that lasted for about four hours.

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Senator Win Gatchalian chaired the Senate hearing attended by the resource person who tested COVID-19 positive [photo from the senator’s Facebook page]

Soon afterwards, Senator Nancy Binay also announced her decision to go into self-quarantine. “Following the decision of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian to go into self-quarantine, I have likewise decided to take similar precautions and self-monitor for the next 14 days,” she cited in her statement. Her staff will also do the same. She also urged everyone who “came in contact” with her in the past week “to take the same precautions and observe all the basic hygienic processes”.

Given the situation, Senate President Tito Sotto has ordered the lockdown of the Senate of the Philippines to allow disinfection of building facilities. He cited that he has also ordered a review of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage in the Senate on March 5 to trace the individuals who had direct contact with the COVID-19 infected resource person. The lockdown takes effect starting today, while scheduled hearings are postponed until further announcement.

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Senate is locked down for disinfection starting March 12

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