Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Wednesday, March 25, confirmed that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), becoming the second senator to contract the disease after Senator Migz Zubiri.
“I was informed last night. I’m okay, I just have a slight sore throat. I don’t have fever nor chills,” he said.
Pimentel received his test result from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine while he was accompanying his pregnant wife Kathryna to the Makati Medical Center.
The hospital slammed Pimentel for his “irresponsible and reckless” actions.
“We denounce the irresponsible and reckless action of the senator. He added to the burden of a hospital trying to respond in its most competent and aggressive manner to cope with the daunting challenges of this COVID-19 outbreak,” said Makati Medical Center Medical Director Saturnino Javier in a statement.
“He violated his home quarantine, exposed health workers to possible infection, and therefore, to me, that is reckless and unacceptable,” he added.
According to Javier, the senator created another problem for the Makati Medical Center.
“A number of our nurses and doctors may need to be quarantined which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital,” he said.
Pimentel, who said he was on self-quarantine after a resource person who attended a hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture tested positive for the disease, was also seen visiting the S&R Membership Shopping Club in Bonifacio Global City the day President Rodrigo Duterte enforced an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
This, despite showing symptoms for the disease already.
S&R on Thursday, March 26, said it has placed its staff in quarantine.
“It was confirmed that the senator was at the S&R BGC on March 16, 2020. CCTV footage showed him checking out at counter 13 at exactly 1:59 p.m.,” it said.
“As a result, S&R employees who were in contact with the senator were already placed in quarantine. S&R BGC also took extra disinfection steps,” it added.
Pimentel has since apologized for his actions.
“I would like to sincerely and profoundly apologize for this very unfortunate incident. I never intended to do any harm to anyone,” he said Thursday.
“I never intended to breach any protocol but I realize now, I unnecessarily caused additional anguish, concern to the courageous healthcare workers who we all depend,” he added.
The senator also urged the MMC to communicate with him.
“I’d like to extend my apologies to the Makati Medical Center. Please tell me how I can make it up to you,” Pimentel said.