COVID-19 rapid test required before meeting Duterte: PSG

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Col. Jesus Durante III signs the assumption order to command the Presidential Security Group (PSG) as President Rodrigo Duterte looks on during the PSG Change of Command Ceremony at the PSG Compound in Malacañang Park in Manila on February 25, 2020. Durante, the fourth PSG commander under Duterte, replaced Brig. Gen. Jose Niembra.

MANILA – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) is requiring everyone who goes near President Rodrigo Duterte to undergo a COVID-19 rapid test as part of its security measures.

In a statement released Wednesday, PSG Commander Col. Jesus Durante said regular screening procedure, including COVID-19 rapid testing, is done on everyone, including high-ranking officials, PSG troopers, and close-in personnel who accompany the President.

"This is in addition to existing medical assessments and stringent measures being enforced by PSG in order to ensure the safety and good health of the President," he said.

The rapid test is administered by the PSG Task Force COVID's medical team, and is different from the polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits used by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and its affiliates.

Durante also said those found positive during the rapid tests will not be allowed to enter Malacañang.

"Those found positive during the rapid tests will not be allowed to enter the facility. Much more if the concerned party manifests fever and other symptoms related to COVID-19," he said.

He, however, clarified that the results of the rapid tests are not infallible and are still subject to confirmation through the tests administered by the RITM.

"PSG does not claim that the results of the rapid tests are definite and absolute. It is still subject for confirmation thru RT-PCR tests administered by RITM," Durante said.

The PSG last month implemented a "no touch" policy on the President as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.

They later on insisted on the “strict” enforcement of the “no touch policy” on President Duterte even though the chief executive previously rejected the measure.

President Duterte has tested negative for the novel coronavirus after several of his top officials went on self-quarantine following contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines had a total of 5,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 349 deaths and 353 recoveries. 

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