August 24, 2021 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 has stricken two more public officials, as both Sen. Lito Lapid and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 yesterday.
In a message to Senate reporters via Viber, Jericho Acedera, Lapid’s chief of staff, confirmed the senator tested positive in his COVID-19 RT-PCR test and said Lapid “is currently undergoing treatment at the Medical City Clark where his doctors consider his case as mild to moderate.”
Faustino, who tested positive for COVID-19 in an antigen test in the morning, said he received further confirmation later in the day after testing positive again with an RT-PCR test.
“Fortunately, I am fully vaccinated and in high spirits to continue performing my job, albeit in quarantine,” he said in a statement.
“I will remain in command of the AFP but will continue to follow the prescribed isolation protocol to ensure the safety of those I work with and my family. In fact, I intend to join virtually the Western Mindanao Command change of command ceremony tomorrow,” Faustino added.
Lapid is the seventh senator to be afflicted with COVID-19 since March 2020. The others were Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Richard Gordon, Sonny Angara, Ronald dela Rosa, Aquilino Pimentel III and Bong Revilla.
Acedera said that “all of those who have come in close contact with him already took the necessary tests and have been instructed to comply with the existing COVID-19 protocols.”
“As this happened when the Senate is not holding sessions, no member of our staff has been considerably exposed except for his personal and close-in employees who have tested negative in their antigen tests and currently exhibit no symptoms,” the statement read.
“We shall be reporting progress of his recovery when needed and as we get news from his doctors. We enjoin everyone to pray that his health and of all those infected continue to improve and, more importantly, for this pandemic to soon be over,” the statement added.
Faustino, who was appointed AFP chief only three weeks ago, had to cancel a virtual press briefing and his first meet and greet with reporters.
He was also scheduled to have a joint virtual press conference with Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command who is visiting the country, in the afternoon, but that too had to be cancelled.
“Allow me to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to support our government’s vaccination efforts and to get inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine whenever and wherever they can,” Faustino said.
AFP spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala had also given assurance that “the Chief of Staff is still very much in command” and he is feeling fine.
“We’re just following health protocols and no one is exempted from health protocols for everybody’s safety. But the Chief of Staff is very much in control,” he said.