Protocols in place to protect Duterte without limiting activities

Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in the country, Malacañang on Wednesday said it is taking the necessary steps to enforce strict Covid-19 protocols following the planned visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to areas hit by Typhoon Odette last month.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, said the Palace is devising measures to protect Duterte’s health and safety without limiting his activities.

“While ensuring his safety and his health, we also do not want to limit his movements especially kung gusto niyang bumisita rin sa mga lugar, gaya ng sinabi niya kagabi, bumisita muli sa mga naapektuhan ng Typhoon Odette, at yung ibang activities na gusto rin gawin ni Pangulo (if he wants to visit again areas affected by Typhoon Odette and other activities he wants to engage in),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

He said the Palace has already taken into consideration Duterte’s nature of wanting to interact with people in areas he visits.

“As he’s known to be [a] very active president, and he wants to be always on the ground, he always wants to be with people. So, we are putting the necessary protocols to protect him while as much as possible not limiting what he wants to do so that he can effectively govern as our chief executive,” he added.

Currently, he said the Palace is “planning” Duterte’s schedule in the next few days.

Duterte, in a recent public address, said he plans to visit areas battered by Typhoon Odette.

Last month, Duterte visited Maasin, Leyte; Inabanga, Bohol; Argao, Cebu; and Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, Dinagat Islands, and Siargao Island to meet local officials and personally distribute relief assistance to those displaced by the typhoon.

On December 30, Malacañang announced that visitors who wish to meet with Duterte have to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) before they are allowed inside the Palace.

Nograles said visitors and guests must undergo antigen testing inside the Palace as part of their second screening.

“This forms part of the Palace health and safety protocol,” Nograles said.

RT-PCR tests are still considered the gold standard in detecting the virus that causes Covid-19, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

As of Tuesday, the DOH reported 5,434 new Covid-19 infections bringing the country’s total caseload to 2,861,119.

The DOH reported a positivity rate of 26.5 percent out of 25,704 tests, way above the 5 percent benchmark set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Recoveries increased by 611 for a total of 2,779,706 while deaths reached 51,604 after 18 succumbed to respiratory disease.

Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal are currently under a stricter Alert Level 3 until January 15.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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