MANILA--The Department of Health on Tuesday advised the public, especially recovered COVID-19 patients, not to relax amid the pandemic after a case of reinfection was recorded in Hong Kong.
Researchers there identified "the first confirmed case" worldwide of COVID-19 reinfection, raising questions about the durability of immunity, whether acquired naturally or with a vaccine.
The DOH said in a statement it cannot verify the report until the details of the Hong Kong researchers on the reinfection are released in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
"Data on post-infection immunity are also lacking, according to the World Health Organization," the department said, assuring it will closely monitor the study, and act accordingly after more scientific details are released.
The public, meanwhile, was advised to stay alert and continue to follow anti-COVID policies to avoid infection, even recovered coronavirus patients.
"What we do not want to happen is for people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past to assume they are already immune to the disease. Until we fully understand what we are up against, everyone should always follow the minimum health standards (using face masks, handwashing, and physical distancing). No exceptions," the DOH said.
The Hong Kong study was divulged after a 33-year-old resident of the city passed through mandatory screening earlier this month at the Hong Kong airport on his way back from Europe. The so-called PCR swab test was positive.
It turned out the man had contracted -- and recovered from -- a COVID infection four-and-a-half months earlier, and was assumed to have immunity, especially after such a brief time since the infection.
To date, there have been many cases of suspected re-infection, but none were able to rule out the possibility that the virus has remained latent and reemerged after weeks or months.--With a report from Agence France-Presse