Fourteen Senate employees have tested positive for antibodies for the new coronavirus in rapid tests done on them as sessions in Congress resumed on Monday, Senate leaders said.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said seven of them are from the Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms, two are staff of senators, including one from Senator Sherwin Gatchalian’s office, one is a waiter and one is a plenary employee.
Sotto said all were brought to the hospital to undergo a swab test and be quarantined, Sotto said.
The Department of Health has said that rapid tests, which detect antibodies present in the blood, are not as accurate as real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR tests, which detect the virus itself.
As such, those who test positive for coronavirus using rapid tests must undergo a confirmatory RT-PCR test, which would require nose and throat swabs from them.
Rapid testing is among the health measures being undertaken at the Senate as sessions resume. The Senate has yet to amend its rules to allow sessions to be conducted virtually, so senators and staff would still need to be present at the plenary hall.
Three senators who earlier tested positive for coronavirus, have all recovered. Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, however, tested positive again for the virus a month after he recovered.