MANILA - Two more Senate staffers tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) last week, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday.
Zubiri said one staff member was from his office while the other was from Sen. Nancy Binay's team.
"'Yung staff ko natamaan ng COVID-19. Runner namin sa Senado," he said.
"They were all working in the Senate as a skeletal force... So hindi pa nafu-fully sanitize ang Senado," said the lawmaker, a COVID-19 survivor.
Binay's office confirmed that one of their employees is recuperating from the disease.
Zubiri said two others from another senator's office also tested positive for the disease, but the information has yet to be confirmed.
Senators have asked Senate President Vicente Sotto III to place the Senate under a lockdown to sanitize the building, Zubiri told reporters in an online press conference.
"To open the Senate at this point in time is still a big no-no," Zubiri said.
"We should respect the health of all the members of the Secretariat of the Senate," he said.
But Sotto said the Senate cannot have a "total lockdown" as it would affect the processing of the chamber's payroll, which could only be done on site.
"As I said before, we cannot have a total lockdown because the payroll of all employees cannot be done by the authorities at home or elsewhere," Sotto told reporters in a text message.
"Semi lockdown only possible, otherwise maraming magugutom (many will go hungry)," he said.
Last month, the Senate Medical and Dental Bureau said that the chamber has recorded 16 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began in the Philippines in March.
Of these, 13 have recovered, 1 died, while 2 are still recuperating from the disease.
Other than Zubiri, Senators Sonny Angara and Aquilino Pimentel III earlier contracted the disease and have since recovered.
Last week, an employee from the Senate Office of the Sergeant at Arms died from pneumonia. Senate officials have yet to receive test results to confirm if he was also a carrier of the virus.
The Senate is currently on a 2-month break and is expected to resume sessions on July 27.