MANILA – Members of the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte will soon adopt teleconferencing to avoid catching or spreading the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), a Palace official said on Thursday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea came out with the proposal after several government officials decided to undergo self-quarantine following exposure to persons who recently tested positive for coronavirus.
Teleconferencing refers to the holding of a conference among people remote from one another by means of telecommunication devices such as smartphones and computers.
This way, Medialdea said Cabinet members and their personnel could hold meetings without having to physically be in the same setting.
“We just have to stay away from each other. Telepono na lang, text-text, nagke-create ng sistema ngayon na pwede kami mag meet for teleconferencing (We speak with each other over the phone or text. We are creating a system where we can meet for teleconferencing),” he said in a phone interview with reporters.
He said the disease has forced Cabinet members as well as other government workers to “restrain some movements” especially since it can be easily be transmitted between people who are within about six feet from each other.
The virus is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
As a precaution against Covid-19, the Department of Health (DOH) has advised the public to maintain social distancing.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) also issued a memorandum adopting the four-day workweek arrangement where public employees’ workweek is reduced to four days, but the number of work hours per day is increased to 10 hours so the total number of required work hours per week would not be less than 40 hours.
In response, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has approved a four-day workweek for its workers to minimize the risk of contracting the disease.
Several government facilities and offices have also conducted cleaning and disinfection procedures on Thursday to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Earlier, the DOH said only those with symptoms of Covid-19 and those in close contact with those infected will be prioritized to be given medical attention while those asymptomatic should go on self-quarantine in their respective homes.
There are several government officials who are currently undergoing self-quarantine after being exposed to patients infected with the coronavirus.
Aside from Medialdea, Cabinet members and government officials who are on self-quarantine are Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Transport Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran, and Bases Conversion and Development Authority President Vince Dizon
Lawmakers on self-quarantine are Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Panfilo Lacson, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Franklin Drilon, Migz Zubiri, Navotas City Rep. John Rey Tiangco, and Davao Rep. Sid Ungab.
Local officials Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, and Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco are also on self-quarantine.
On Wednesday night, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go bared that President Rodrigo Duterte will also undergo testing for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that the Inter-Agency Task Force to fight Covid-19 has agreed to adopt a resolution containing “measures intended to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”
“The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases convened this morning, March 12, and its members came into an agreement to adopt a resolution containing the implementation of measures intended to contain the spread of the coronavirus, as proposed by a Technical Advisory Group led by Dr. Edsel Salvana, which will be submitted to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte later today,” he said in a statement.
He said the contents of the resolution will be announced to the public following Duterte’s approval.
As of Wednesday, there are 49 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines including the first Filipino fatality, a 67-year-old woman without any travel history or exposure to the disease.
The Philippines is now under a state of public health emergency after the health department reported the first known local transmission.
With more than 100 countries affected by Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic which means a worldwide spread of a new disease.
The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 4,200 people and infected over 119,000 worldwide. (PNA)