Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced Thursday she has tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“As a government official and Cabinet member, and as a Filipino, it is my duty to announce that yesterday late afternoon, 8 April 2020, I was infromed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine that I am positive for SARS-COV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19,” Briones in a statement.
It was the 79-year-old DepEd chief’s second test. She had to be tested on 13 March after several of her executive committee members were exposed to a positive patient. That test turned out negative three days later.
“Similar with other Cabinet members, I was tested to ensure that there was no threat to my functioning as Education Secretary, and to protect my fellow Cabinet members and the President. I received the result on 16 March; it was negative. With a few close in staff, I stayed in the satellite office to conduct my duties as Scretary of the Department,” Briones said.
“Last 2 April, I had myself tested again after another Cabinet member announced that he was tested and declared positive. He and I attended an urgent and critical meeting of select Cabinet officials on 23 March. My test result, as I said, is positive,” she added.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo says the Palace is saddened by Briones’ announcement.
“We are praying that she gets healed from this dreadful disease. Sec. Briones has been an indefatigable and conscientious member of the Cabinet. As expected and as announced by her, she will continue to perform her duties as Education Secretary while in isolation and despite her present illness,” Panelo said in a statement.
Briones said she remains asymptomatic and her body temperature, taken three times a day, remains normal.
The DepEd chief also said that she will continue to discharge her functions while in isolation.
“I am going on isolation. However, like my fellow Cabinet member, I will continue working —virtually attend IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) meetings, preside over the DepEd ExeCom and ManCom, and make all decisions necessary to keep DepEd in full operation,” she said.
She also called on those who have been in close contact with her to undergo self-quarantine.
“I call on all who had physical contact with me to go on precuationary self-quarantine at home. DepEd has coordinated with the DOH (Department of Health) for the contact tracing and other necessary interventions following their protocols,” she said.