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Roque said he regularly got himself tested before meeting with Duterte so today’s result “came as a shock”. The last time he was with Duterte was on 11 March, he said, adding he had tested negative the day before the meeting and kept his distance from the president.

He was asymptomatic and would continue working remotely in an isolation facility, Roque said. News of his diagnosis comes as the Philippines has been seeing a surge in Covid cases, with close to 10,000 fresh infections added to the total tally over the weekend.

It was exactly a year ago when Duterte imposed one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns in the capital, Manila, and other provinces in an attempt to curb the coronavirus spread. He has gradually eased the restrictions to revive the economy, which suffered its worst contraction on record last year.

Cumulative confirmed cases in the Philippines, which include those caused by new variants, have increased to more than 621,000 while confirmed deaths have reached more than 12,800.

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