Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he tested positive – again – for the novel coronavirus on Monday, July 27, hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Because of this, Zubiri did not attend the President’s speech at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City. He was one of only 8 senators slated to physically attend the event. Instead, he went on self-quarantine and watched the SONA virtually.
Zubiri was, however, physically present at the opening of the Senate’s session at the Senate Plenary Hall in Pasay City on Monday morning with 16 other senators and their staff.
Three rapid tests done on Zubiri yielded negative results for the coronavirus, he said, but they showed he possessed an antibody called immunoglobulin G. This may indicate an immune response to COVID-19.
He was also swab-tested (RT-PCR) for the coronavirus ahead of the session, and he was notified of his positive result after it.
“According to doctors, it is possible that the test detected remnants of the dead virus cells in my body, as I am a COVID-19 survivor. So I decided to forego any other appointments and head back to my isolation room for quarantine,” Zubiri said in a statement.
“I feel absolutely fine, I’m not feeling anything wrong, and I have no symptoms. But it’s better to be safe and to keep everyone safe from this virus. And I will continue to work from isolation virtually until I get my consecutive negative results after quarantine,” he added.
Zubiri took a second swab test from the Philippine Red Cross on Monday afternoon to confirm his condition. He needs two consecutive negative results to be declared free of the virus.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who was also at the Senate session, said doctors told him and the other senators present not to worry because all of them, including Zubiri, had face masks on at the time.
However, people who had lunch with Zubiri need to “monitor and observe” themselves because they would have taken their masks off to eat.
Zubiri first contracted COVID-19 in mid-March, after having inadvertent interaction with a patient at the Senate. He was the first senator to confirm having the disease, and several other senators went on self-quarantine at the time. A few senators also tested positive for the virus.
Zubiri was asymptomatic then, and recovered by mid-April. He donated his blood plasma to help other coronavirus patients fight the disease. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.