A Philippine Minister of Government tested positive for coronavirus five months after the initial diagnosis, authorities said Monday, as experts were investigating whether he had been re-infected. Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, who is helping spearhead the country ‘s response to the virus, said he returned to a positive test on Saturday after having had flu-like symptoms last week.
He was diagnosed with COVID-19 for the first time in March, but did not show any signs of the disease at the time. Research has shown that people infected with coronavirus build up antibodies about a week after infection or onset of symptoms. But scientists still don’t know whether the body systematically builds up enough immunity to prevent a new attack on the virus or, if so, how long it lasts. Some studies have shown that patients recovering from coronavirus may lose their immunity within months or even weeks.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that experts were analyzing Ano ‘s symptoms, his previous positive test, and laboratory results to see if this is a second infection. “Let’s not call it a re-infection. The scientific community has not yet accepted a re-infection,” Vergeire warned. Ano was tested in advance of a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte and other key cabinet members on Monday to decide whether to extend the two-week lockdown in Manila and four surrounding provinces that is due to expire this week.