Sen. Angara says he tested positive for COVID-19 again, weeks after recovery

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Senator Sonny Angara said he has tested positive for the coronavirus disease again, nearly one month after recovering from the viral illness. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 2) — Senator Sonny Angara said he has tested positive for the coronavirus disease again, nearly one month after recovering from the viral illness.

"[While] preparing to donate my blood plasma for a second time, my doctors after the results of the initial antibody test taken before donating had me take another swab test, which registered positive," he said in a Facebook post.

Angara said his doctors suspect there are still "remnants of the virus" in his body. He had taken the swab test while preparing to donate blood.

"My wife Tootsy has tested negative, which could be proof of what my doctors are positing that I am probably no longer infectious and that this latest positive result is probably picking up remnants of the virus," he added.

The senator had earlier offered blood plasma to help infected patients fight the disease.

Health Department spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire agreed with Angara's doctors about his test results.

"The RT-PCR is not recommended by our experts as a measure of cure, as the virus may still be apparent in the body of COVID-positive cases, even long after they have recovered, such as the case of Sen. Sonny Angara. But it doesn't mean that he is still infectious," Vergeire said in a message, referring to the swab test.

Angara said he will undergo self-quarantine again, though he is not feeling ill. He said he will join Senate hearings through teleconferencing once it is allowed.

Meanwhile, his co-senator Koko Pimentel said he has already tested negative for COVID-19, a month after he was diagnosed with the infection.

Pimentel said he had retaken a swab test on April 13 and received the results ten days later.

He now considers himself "covid free" and a "recovered person" given that it has been a long time since his first confirmatory swab test on March 20. But, he also advised to wait for the Health Department to confirm it.

"That has been 44 days already. That's already three 14-day cycles!" the senator added. "Since I am still alive, the sense [is] that the virus has already run its course."

However, Pimentel said he will still listen to medical advice on whether or not he will join the resumption of the Senate session on Monday, which Senate President Tito Sotto required everyone to attend.

The senator earlier faced backlash for potentially exposing hospital staff to the coronavirus after breaking stay-at-home protocols. Pimentel visited the Makati Medical Center on March 24 to accompany his pregnant wife, even though he was a suspected carrier then and had tested for COVID-19 four days before. He said he only learned he was positive for the disease while in the hospital.

Pimentel has since apologized to hospital management who nevertheless released a statement criticizing the senator for endangering the health of their employees.

The National Bureau of Investigation said it has started a probe into Pimentel's possible quarantine breach. Legal experts had said that criminal, administrative and civil charges may be filed against Pimentel over his alleged breach of quarantine protocols.