Pimentel tests positive for coronavirus

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, making him the second senator to contract COVID-19.

In a statement sent to reporters, Pimentel said he took the test on March 20 and was  informed about the result late Tuesday, March 24.

"Since the last day of session March 11, I had already tried my best to limit my movement. I will call (to the best of my ability) those I remember meeting during those crucial days so that I can inform them of my test result," Pimentel said.

"I have quarantined myself upon the doctor’s advice and consistent with the protocol. I feel I am, with God’s help, on the way to recovery," he added.

Pimentel confirmed that he was with his wife at the hospital when he learned about the test result. Kathryna was due to give birth on Wednesday, March 25, but because of the development, her delivery date was postponed.

"I received the call from RITM when I was already in the hospital last night hence I left immediately," he said.

As he went into self-isolation, Pimentel asked for prayers, especially for his wife. 

"I would like to ask for your prayers, especially for my wife Kath, who is about to give birth in the next few days to our first baby girl, and with whom I cannot be at this very important point in our lives as parents," the senator said.

He also urged the public to observe physical distance and the enhanced community quarantine, as well as exercise good hygiene.

Later in an interview with GMA's 24 Oras, Pimentel justified accompanying his wife to the hospital on Tuesday, even after he had taken the test.

"Sa mata ko, this is an essential movement. Manganganak si misis. Sinong kasama ng misis kung 'di si mister? (My wife is giving birth. Who will accompany the wife but her husband?)" Pimentel said.

He added that his movement within the hospital was limited to the corridors and the entrance and exit points of the delivery section area.

Pimentel was not able to attend the special session on Monday, March 23, when the Senate approved the law granting Duterte special powers to deal with the pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri was the first senator to test positive for COVID-19 on March 16.

Zubiri was among the 12 senators who went into self-quarantine after Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay announced they would go into self-quarantine beginning March 11, after learning that one of the resource persons in a March 5 Senate hearing tested positive for the COVID-19.  Gatchalian and Binay tested negative for the disease.

Pimentel was among the senators who said they would work from home beginning March 12.

At the time, two weeks ago, there were 49 patients who tested positive with COVID-19 in the Philippines, two of whom died.

As of Tuesday, March 24, the Philippines had 552 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 33 deaths and 20 recoveries. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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