Philippine civil service paralysed

The Philippine civil service is facing paralysis, with top officials going on self-quarantine and key government offices shutting their doors as more cases of the coronavirus surface and unease over an undetected community spread continues to percolate.

Yesterday, the Senate as well as the finance and education ministries, the central bank, economic planning and telecommunication agencies, and parts of a compound where President Rodrigo Duterte holds office were either on lockdown or “restricted access”.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a government bank, both in Manila, also closed their headquarters.

All had announced that they were disinfecting their premises after learning they had visitors who tested positive for the virus or had come in contact with those infected.

Meanwhile, six Cabinet ministers, nine senators, the central bank governor, three big-city mayors and a congressman are now under self-quarantine.

Duterte’s daughter, Davao Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio, is herself in quarantine.

Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said Duterte was having himself tested as well and was considering self-quarantine.

Duterte was at a road inauguration event on March 5 where he met with transportation secretary Arthur Tugade, who had by then already come in contact with a virus carrier at another event.

The finance and public works secretaries, the central bank governor and Duterte’s chief of staff were also there.

They are now all on self-quarantine.

Panelo said Duterte did not exhibit signs of an infection, but had “opted to undergo the test to perform (his) duties.

“This is a pre-emptive step to be sure that he’s fit and healthy, ” said Panelo.

He said Duterte flew to his home city of Davao yesterday, where he would likely stay should he opt for self-quarantine.

A congressional hearing, meanwhile, seems to have set off the flurry of self-quarantine and lockdowns at the Senate and ADB.

Only two senators were at the hearing, but seven other senators had opted to quarantine themselves. — The Straits Times/ANN

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