Tugade confirms exposure to COVID-19 was at NLEx inspection with Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said he came into contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during the March 5, 2020 toll road inspection event led by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Tugade told the Inquirer the event was for the inspection of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Harbor Link C3-R10, which will open in the coming weeks and deliver relief to traffic-choked roads in the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.
Tugade is now under self-quarantine, joining Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, who also attended the same event.
DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran told reporters late Wednesday they learned of the unnamed individual’s COVID-19 confirmation on Thursday afternoon. Libiran, who disclosed she will also go under self-quarantine, could not share the person’s identity for privacy reasons.
Other government officials with Duterte at the event were his former and aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno.
It also was unclear if Duterte came into contact with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19.
“I do not think he was exposed,” Tugade said when asked about this. He added that he was fine and he thanked people for their concern.
Go announced today he and Duterte will get tested for COVID-19.
The event following the inspection took place inside a makeshift air-conditioned tent that could accommodate around 200 people. A source who attended said the venue was almost full.
Duterte arrived early evening and gave a short speech after driving through the 2.6-kilometer project, which is now 90 percent finished. He stayed inside the tent for an hour or less, the source said.
The expansion of the NLEx is a project of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., an infrastructure giant led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who was also present during the inspection event. With him were senior NLEx executives including Metro Pacific CEO Jose Ma. K. Lim.
“I’m fine,” Lim said in a text message on Thursday morning.
Metro Pacific and NLEx officials are expected to discuss measures including the quarantine of officials, another source said. On Wednesday evening, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
Edited by MUF
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