Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), based on the laboratory results released by the Department of Health (DOH) regional office on Thursday morning.
City Administrator Aldrin Quebec said Romualdez is among the 14 Tacloban residents who tested positive of the viral infection.
Quebec added that Romualdez decided to make his test result public to allay fears of local residents and be able to respond to queries regarding his health status.
Quebec said it could not ascertain yet how or from whom the mayor got the infection as contact tracing is still ongoing.
“He has been receiving visitors in his office, been going around the city to monitor what is happening on the ground and he has been attending meetings,” Quebec said. “This is incidental as part of his job as the city mayor.”
He added that Romualdez is now in isolation in an undisclosed location due to security considerations but he continues to function as the local chief executive.
“The mayor is still functioning on a work-from-home set-up. We have been receiving instructions from him and he continues to perform his other duties,” he said.
Quebec said Romualdez is expected to fully recover and be able to report back to city hall next week.
City Health Officer Gloria Fabrigas said Romualdez initially complained of not feeling well on 2 December but his flu-like symptoms such as sore throat and fatigue-like syndrome surfaced on 7 December prompting him to undergo a swab test on 8 December, and the result was released Thursday.
Fabrigas at least 18 people who are close contacts of the mayor are under observation and have undergone swab tests. These include his close office and household staff and immediate members of his family.
According to Fabrigas, among those swabbed together with the mayor is his daughter Sophia Romualdez, who tested negative of COVID-19 infection.
She said Romualdez is under close monitoring due to his other comorbidities such as hypertension. She said Romualdez’ condition is already improving.
Romualdez is the second city mayor in Eastern Visayas to have tested positive of COVID-19. In August, Catbalogan City Mayor Dexter Uy was also tested positive of COVID-19. One incumbent mayor in Eastern Visayas — Mayor Manuel Aoyang of Palapag, Northern Samar – died of the disease in November.