The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) reported on Sunday (July 26) that the number of active Covid-19 cases across its various agencies has risen to 25.

Nineteen of the cases were employees stationed at PCOO’s main office at the New Executive Building (NEB) in Malacañang complex while the other six came from affiliated agencies.

Since the first reported case last July 21, operations at the NEB have been suspended.

Palace communications chief Martin Andanar assured the public that the PCOO would continue to carry out its duties.

“As work at the New Executive Building (NEB) remains suspended, we continue to adopt a work-from-home arrangement in order to fulfill our obligations and mandate to the Filipino people,” Andanar said in a statement on Sunday.

To combat the surge in Covid-19 cases, the PCOO said it had formed a response team that would facilitate contact tracing, testing and quarantine.

Andanar also said that Radio-Television Malacañang employees who did not come into contact with the infected individuals would cover President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The lockdown imposed on the PCOO and RTVM will be eased to a “semi-lockdown” on Monday to allow remote media coverage of the address, he said.

While members of the media will not be allowed in the SONA venue, the NEB’s press working area will also be open to members of the Malacañang Press Corps, he said.

Three separate Zoom video chat rooms will accommodate government officials, Sanguniang Kabataan leaders, and overseas Filipino workers who will not be physically present during the address, he said.

The SONA is set to be delivered at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City on Monday, July 27. 

If guests test positive for Covid-19, a contingency plan has been set to hold the event at Malacañan Palace, Andanar said. Carlito Topacio