Eduardo Ano, Philippine’s interior secretary, has tested positive for COVID-19 — four months after recovery.
Ano, who was first diagnosed with the disease on March 31, recovered and got a negative result on April 13.
But the minister said he received a positive test on Saturday after experiencing flu-like symptoms last week.
Maria Vergeire, the country’s health undersecretary, said experts are analysing 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 that a re-infection occurs,” Vergeire said.
Philippines currently has 164,474 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,681 deaths.
A total of 112,759 have recovered from the disease while there are 49,034 active cases.
Research has shown that people infected with the virus build up antibodies about a week after infection or the onset of symptoms but scientists are still not sure if the body systematically builds up enough immunity to prevent a new attack by the virus or how long such immunity lasts.
Some studies have also shown that patients who recover from the disease may lose their immunity within months or weeks.
In February, about 14 percent of Chinese patients who recovered from COVID-19 reportedly tested positive again.
A professor at New York University’s school of medicine was quoted as saying the virus could remain dormant and with minimal symptoms, and “then you can get an exacerbation if it finds its way into the lungs.”
In South Korea, 91 people who recovered from the disease also tested positive again.