THERE are 98 individuals working in the House of Representatives who tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the first mass testing initiated by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
As of press time, the House Secretary General’s Office has not yet issued statement on whether or not there are lawmakers included in the count.
Because of the high number, House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said strict health and safety protocols will continue to be implemented inside Batasan Complex.
To date, the House of Representatives had recorded 80 cases of COVID-19, to which 10 solons were included.
According to Mendoza, the number represents nearly 5 percent of 2,000 House lawmakers and employees who underwent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing since Nov. 10.
“It’s the first time a mass testing was conducted in the House since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, and this happened less than one month after Speaker Velasco assumed office,” Mendoza pointed out.
“Speaker Velasco ordered the mass testing to ensure the health and safety of everyone in the Batasan Complex, while the legislative chamber carries out its constitutional duties amid the pandemic,” he added.
Mendoza announced that almost all COVID-19 positive cases were asymptomatic.
“All those who tested positive were directed to self-isolate to avoid passing the virus to others and immediate tracing of their close contacts was conducted,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said the House is now coordinating with the Quezon City government for the conduct of a more extensive contact tracing.
He also said the testing laboratory commissioned by the House has reported the cases to the Department of Health, while the chamber’s in-house medical service made proper coordination with concerned Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams.
Mendoza pointed out that the increase in COVID-19 cases was expected since the testing covered everyone in the House, not just those with symptoms.
All House members and employees reporting for work were required to undergo RT-PCR test with Velasco taking the lead by having himself tested at the chamber’s own testing facility last Nov. 10.
Mendoza said the lawmakers and House workers also continue to undergo regular testing, especially when going inside the plenary hall.
Visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before they can be granted access to the offices inside the complex.
All those entering the House need to wear masks and face shields, pass through thermal scanners and disinfection machines, and observe physical distancing at all times.
House members, employees and guests are required to submit an accomplished health declaration form to inform the chamber of their health status before being allowed to enter its premises.