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Koko Pimentel tests positive for Covid-19; comes under fire for violating quarantine

26 March 2020

By The SUN

Senator Pimentel with wife Kathryna (photo from the Senator's office)

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel has revealed testing positive for Covid-19 on Mar 25, but only after he had taken his pregnant wife, Kathryna, to Makati Medical Centre for her scheduled delivery by caesarean section.

His disclosure led to widespread censure, as it emerged the senator had violated his 14-day home quarantine and put many people at risk, not just his wife and their child, but also the staff at the hospital.

He later revealed the scheduled delivery of their baby on Wednesday had been postponed, and his wife was put under isolation.
Pimentel was the second senator to test positive for the coronavirus disease. Senate Minority Leader Miguel Zubiri had earlier revealed he was also infected, possibly by a fellow senator.

MMC’s Medical Director Saturnino Javier immediately published a statement, denouncing Pimentel for his “irresponsible and reckless” actions, and for violating health protocols.

Javier said that following the incident, the hospital immediately disinfected the hospital’s maternity ward, and put about eight medical personnel in isolation for being in close contact with the senator while he was there.
Also reported as having contracted the disease is Rizal Governor Rebecca “Nini” Ynares, who is 70 years old. Her son, former Antipolo City Mayor Casimiro Ynares III, said in a statement released late on Mar 25 that his mother must have caught the virus from her constant monitoring of the province, which has several confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Another case involves noted theater artist Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, who is in critical condition because of the virus, said her friend, journalist Belinda Olivares-Cunanan in a Facebook post. The artists’s husband, former senator Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez, is also reported to have been infected, but is in relatively good condition.

Overseas, the most prominent personality to land in the news on the same day for having contracted the disease is Britain’s Prince Charles. The information came directly from the office of the second-in-line to the British throne.

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In his defense, Pimentel said that he left the hospital as soon as he received a call from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) advising him about his positive test result on the night of Mar 24.

This was despite some reports saying he had lingered at the hospital on the night in question.

Pimentel also said the fact that his wife was about to give birth justified his leaving their home despite the quarantine.

“I cannot be in two places at the same time. My wife Kath is alone in Makati Med,” Pimentel said when asked about this allegation.
Pimentel also denied he requested Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for priority treatment after having a low fever on Mar 18, a minor cough and slightly sore throat. He said he asked to be tested on Mar 20.

Other reports quoted him as saying that he started feeling some symptoms on Mar 14. But whichever date is used for reckoning, he would still have been at least five days short of finishing the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
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