President Rodrigo Duterte tested negative for Covid-19 in his last swab test and he remains “fit and healthy for his age,” Malacañang said Thursday, amid concerns on the Philippine leader’s health.
Duterte’s spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque dismissed speculations that the Chief Executive got sick after some 126 members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) contracted coronavirus, of which 45 were active cases.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte remains fit and healthy for his age and we thank the Filipino people for voicing their concern and wishing the Chief Executive’s strength and good health during this time of Covid-19 pandemic as he continues to discharge his functions as head of the government,” Roque said.
The President’s longtime aide Senator Christopher “Bong” Go also assured the public that Duterte’s swab test conducted during the Holy Week yielded a negative result.
“The President regularly takes swab tests, and with God’s mercy, his last test was negative. You have nothing to worry about, but we cannot take chances,” Go said in a separate statement.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar also branded as “fake news” the report that President Duterte suffered a “mild heart attack.”
In a now-deleted post, online news site Maharlika TV cited “reliable sources” who claimed that Duterte’s public address was postponed on Wednesday because the 76-year-old Chief Executive “suffered a mild stroke.”
“Don’t believe in fake news,” Andanar said in a Facebook post, sharing a screenshot of a report by Maharlika TV.
Go later shared several photos of Duterte working in Malacañang to belie rumors about the President’s health.
Duterte’s regular public address scheduled on Wednesday night was moved to next week in light of the “rising number of active Covid-19 cases” among PSG members, the Palace earlier said.
PSG chief Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III said the personnel who got infected were not directly or closely detailed with the President and were all asymptomatic.
Duterte’s last public engagement was on 29 March during a televised meeting with government officials on the country’s Covid-19 response.
Several PSG members have been vaccinated with unauthorized shots from Sinopharm.
It was not immediately clear whether the PSG members who caught Covid-19 included those who took the Sinopharm vaccine.
Health experts have explained that those who received shots can still contract the coronavirus, but they are protected from severe disease or hospitalization.