Malacañan Palace building shuttered as PCOO employee tests positive for Covid-19

Malacañan Palace building shuttered as PCOO employee tests positive for Covid-19

MANILA – A building in Malacañan Palace will undergo disinfection on Tuesday after an employee of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

PCOO Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Marvin Gatpayat made this announcement in a July 20 advisory.

“An employee of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has tested positive for Covid-19,” Gatpayat said.

“As a safety precaution, we are suspending work starting tomorrow, 21 July 2020, as disinfection of the New Executive Building (NEB) will be done and swab testing for primary and secondary contacts will be conducted,” he added.

He said work at the NEB will resume on Monday (July 27).

The NEB currently houses the PCOO, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, and the Malacañang Press Briefing Room.

Last March, the main palace and other offices at Malacañang underwent cleaning and disinfection as part of precautionary measures amid the Covid-19 threat.

The Presidential Security Group (PSG) disinfected the premises of Malacañang Palace to ensure that President Rodrigo Duterte is protected against Covid-19.

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar also ordered the disinfection of the press working area and the press briefing area located at Malacañang’s New Executive Building in the same month.

Currently, government officials and other individuals who wish to visit the President at Malacañan Palace are required to undergo rapid antibody testing.

The PSG had authorized the use of rapid tests for the President’s visitors to keep him free of Covid-19.

PSG commander Col. Jesus Durante III also assured that all health and safety protocols would continue to be enforced within the Palace and other areas frequented by the President.

He said all screening procedures initially established would still be in effect, such as the “mandatory rapid antibody detection testing and disinfection of engagement areas”.

On top of this, Durante said there would be other existing health security protocols, such as the “no invitation, no entry” policy that is imposed on all visitors and guests.

He said events with the possible attendance of Duterte would only be restricted to small group meetings while engagements that require large crowd gatherings would be discouraged.

“PSG will never let its guard down. It shall remain on high-alert status until the environment is safe for the President,” Durante said, assuring that the group would continue to provide the utmost protection for the President “not only during this Covid-19 crisis but at all times”. (PNA)

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