MANILA - Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Saturday said he has tested negative for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) following exposure to carriers of the disease at the Senate.
The lawmaker said he used a rapid testing kit from a friend in South Korea.
He said he has been under quarantine since after attending the special session of the Senate on March 23. He has been considered a "person under monitoring" since, the lawmaker said.
"Huwag po kayong mag-alala. May natanggap po akong Rapid Testing Kits mula sa aking mga kaibigan sa South Korea. Gamit ang rapid test kit na approved sa Korea, ako po ay nag-negatibo. Hindi pa approved ng FDA (Food and Drug Administration) dito pero 'yon po ang ginagamit sa Korea," Pacquiao said.
(Don't worry. I received rapid testing kits from my friends in South Korea. Using this rapid test kit from Korea, I tested negative. This has not been approved by the FDA but it's being used in Korea.)
He said he had been urged to take a test at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), where other lawmakers had themselves tested, but he refused as he had no symptoms - compliant with protocol.
Pacquiao said he would undergo a swab test if he feels symptoms.
"Once I experience symptoms, I am willing to undergo the swab testing for the sake of my family and my country, but I will go through the regular procedure," Pacquiao said.
"Naniniwala po kasi ako na marami tayong Persons Under Investigation o PUI na dapat unahin pagdating sa testing," said the senator.
(I believe we have many PUIs who should be given priority.)
Earlier, Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Aquilino Pimentel III and Sonny Angara tested positive for the virus. How they got infected remains unclear, but the Senate earlier had to restrict access and undergo disinfection after a resource person at a March 5 committee hearing turned out to be a coronavirus patient.
Pacquiao was known to have been present at a recent party with Pimentel, exposure that a Dasmariñas village cited in a March 27 letter urging the boxer-turned-senator and his family to go on quarantine. He, however, went isolation even days earlier.
Several other senators also underwent testing despite having no symptoms, drawing public criticism as the country's supply of testing kits remains limited.