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Coronavirus sickens 221 PH military personnel

Coronavirus sickens 221 PH military personnel

MANILA, Philippines—The virus SARS Cov2, which causes COVID-19, has virtually infiltrated the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), sickening at least 221 AFP personnel in recent weeks with the number of cases and recoveries seeing an “upward trend.”

At least 22 uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of the AFP had recovered and 126 had been cleared to go home or return to work, AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement Thursday.

One civilian employee had died of COVID-19, he said.

Arevalo said there had been “an upward trend in the number of active, recovered and cleared cases.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP chief/ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. have also tested negative for coronavirus.

Both officials were recently exposed to Lorenzana’s aide, who was confirmed positive for the virus. The senior staffer joined them at two events—the commissioning of BRP Jose Rizal in Subic last Friday (July 10) and President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Jolo on Monday (July 13).

Arevalo, who also joined both events with the infected aide, said he likewise tested negative for the virus.

They will remain on home quarantine but continue to discharge their duties in work-from-home arrangements.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, who was present at the commissioning of the Philippine Navy’s newest warship, is still awaiting the results of his tests.

Like health care workers and essential workers, soldiers are vulnerable to the virus because they play a frontline role in the government’s response against the pandemic.

They have been deployed across the country since the start of the lockdown in March to assist police in enforcing enhanced community quarantine.

The military has also been using its planes, trucks and ships to transport people, medical supplies and aid.

Arevalo said the AFP continued to implement “established health protocols issued by the general headquarters to contain the incidence of infection within its ranks.”

“These include contact tracing, regular building and facility disinfections and stringent screening measures relative to the entry and exit of personnel and visitors in the course of official business,” he said.

As of Thursday, the Philippines has confirmed 61,226 coronavirus cases, with 2,498 new infections.

TSB