Zubiri may undergo retest for COVID-19 due to possible 'false positive': Duque

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2020 04:35 PM | Updated as of Mar 17 2020 06:57 PM

MANILA - Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri may have to undergo another test for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in case his initial swabbing was a "false positive," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday.

In an interview on DZMM radio, Duque said COVID-19 tests may not be 100 percent accurate.

"Kung hindi nga lang tayo medyo may limitasyon pa rin tayo sa testing capacity gusto ko sana ipasuri siya ulit," he said.

(If not for our current limitations in testing capacirty, I want him to redo the test.)

"Kasi hindi naman talaga 100 percent. Mayroon din kahit papaano nakakalusot na false positive. Gusto kong ipaulit ito," he said, noting that the senator remains asymptomatic.

(Because it is not really 100 percent. There are some false positive cases that fall through. I want another test.)

Zubiri, the Philippines' first national official who tested positive for the virus, earlier said he might have contracted the disease while working in the Senate after a resource person who attended a March 5 hearing was later identified as a COVID-19 patient. 

Zubiri did not attend the hearing where the COVID-19 patient was. Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay were present in the said hearing, but both tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

In early January, Zubiri flew to Hong Kong with his wife Aubrey. Mrs. Zubiri tested negative for COVID-19.

"Just to be 100 percent sure, I'm very open to being tested again," Zubiri told reporters in a text message.

The senator said he has yet to receive a schedule for retesting.

As test kits remain scarce in the Philippines, Duque said Zubiri should just continue monitoring for symptoms while on self-quarantine.

"Mas mahalaga mag-quarantine muna siya nang 10 araw pa dahil ang mahalaga wala siyang sintomas," the Health chief said.

(What's more important is for him to remain in self-quarantine for 10 more days because the important thing is he has no symptoms.)

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and soar throat. A majority of cases around the world have been classified as mild.

Due to the limited number of testing kits in the Philippines, the health department earlier said that the COVID-19 test would only be administered on the elderly, a high-risk sector, and patients who have been exhibiting symptoms of the disease.