More employees at Duterte’s communications office positive for COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — Thirteen employees of the Presidential Communications Operations Office have tested positive for the coronarivus disease, prompting the extended suspension of physical work.

It started with one employee being diagnosed with COVID-19 early this week, but Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced Saturday that 12 more personnel have contracted the viral illness.

Work was supposed to resume on July 27, the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address.

“As office disinfection will continue to be carried out at the New Executive Building (NEB), we are extending the physical work suspension until further notice in order to ensure our personnel’s safety against the virus,” Andanar said in a statement.

Andanar said he was also tested last Thursday with results coming out negative.

He stressed that the PCOO’s coverage of Duterte’s SONA “will proceed as planned.” Its attached agency, the Radio Television Malacañang, will be deploying personnel who were not in contact with the COVID-stricken employees, Andanar said.

“Rest assured that the delivery of essential and timely information to the Filipino public will remain unhampered and unchanged as we have adopted a work-from-home arrangement. All programs and briefings done at NEB will be undertaken remotely and/or virtually,” Andanar said.

He added that all health and medical protocols are being followed, including contact tracing and testing of personnel to prevent further spread of the virus. The PCOO is also providing assistance to the infected workers and their families, Andanar said.