World

Philippine minister tests positive for virus for second time

MANILA : A Philippine government minister has tested positive for coronavirus five months after an initial diagnosis, authorities said yesterday, as experts investigate if he had been reinfected.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, who is helping to spearhead the country's virus response, said he returned a positive test on Saturday after experiencing flu-like symptoms last week.

He was first diagnosed with Covid-19 in March but did not show any signs of the disease at the time.

People infected with coronavirus build up antibodies starting a week after infection or the onset of symptoms, research has shown.

But scientists are still unsure whether the body builds up enough immunity to ward off a new attack by the virus or, if it does, how long such immunity lasts. Some studies have shown that patients who recover from coronavirus may lose their immunity within months or even weeks.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said experts were analysing Mr Ano's symptoms, his previous positive test, and laboratory results to see if this is a second infection.

"Let's not call it a reinfection. The scientific community has not yet accepted that a reinfection occurs," Ms Vergeire cautioned.

Mr Ano was tested ahead of a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte and other key Cabinet members yesterday to decide whether to extend a two-week lockdown in Manila and four surrounding provinces that is due to expire today.

The Philippines recorded 3,314 new cases and 18 deaths yesterday.

It has so far registered a total of 164,474 infections and the death toll has risen to 2,681.

Meanwhile, Indonesia reported 1,821 cases yesterday, bringing its total to 141,370.

It had 57 deaths, taking its fatalities to 6,207, the highest death toll in South-east Asia. - AFP, REUTERS, THE STAR

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