Zubiri confirms January trip to Hong Kong but says he got COVID-19 at Senate

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2020 02:51 PM

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri gestures during the Senate hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on January 23, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News

MANILA - Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday confirmed that he traveled to Hong Kong in early January but said that he "got infected" with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) while working in the Senate.

Zubiri, the Philippines' first national official who tested positive for COVID-19, and his wife Audrey traveled to Hong Kong, one of the first areas outside mainland China that reported cases of the novel coronavirus. Mrs. Zubiri tested negative for the disease.

"Our trip with my wife to HK happened on early January before the COVID-19 became [a] serious scare and there [was] still no travel ban at that time. So suffice to say that trip was 2 and a half months ago, and has no bearing on my case," he said.

"If I got infected it was during this last 2 weeks of work at the Senate, wherein we were exposed to a lot of visitors," he said referring to councilors, mayors and Commission on Appointments' guests who visited the Senate before the chamber went on break last week.

Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay, who were at a Senate hearing where a resource person later identified as a COVID-19 patient attended, both tested negative for the disease.

Zubiri said he was open to take another test to see if he was still a carrier of the disease. He is asymptomatic and is on self-quarantine.

"Just to be 100 percent sure, I'm very open to being tested again," he said, noting that he remains asymptomatic while in self-quarantine.

The Department of Health earlier said that COVID-19 testing kits would only be administered to the elderly and symptomatic patients due to the limited number of testing units in the country.