Manny Pacquiao tests negative for coronavirus

Manny Pacquiao Cheryl Diaz Meyer for ESPN

One day after he and his family were asked to stay home, eight-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao says he has tested negative for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, the Philippines senator clarified that he had been in self-isolation after a special Senate session last Monday, and had used rapid testing kits from South Korea to determine his status.

"My countrymen, I would like to make it clear that even before I received the letter from [Dasmariñas Village, Makati] Barangay Captain Rossana Hwang, I already started home quarantine," Pacquiao said in Filipino in a statement.

"Please don't worry. I received rapid testing kits from my friends from South Korea. Using these kits approved in Korea, I tested negative. The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] hasn't approved them yet but these are what's used in Korea.

Pacquiao said he was willing to undergo swab testing if he experienced symptoms.

"I've been encouraged a while back to get tested at RITM [Research Institute for Tropical Medicine], but I want to let it be known that I have not felt any symptoms.

"It's an entirely different conversation when I'm feeling something strange in my body. I am willing to undergo swab testing for the sake of my family and my country, but I will go through the regular procedure.

"I believe that there are many more persons under investigation or PUI that should be prioritized in testing."

In a letter dated March 27, Hwang said Pacquiao was considered a person under monitoring (PUM) and urged him to "be a model example."

Pacquiao, who was supposed to turn over 57,600 test kits from billionaire Jack Ma to his foundation before the quarantine, assured that more test kits and medical equipment were on their way to health workers across the country.

"I encourage everyone to cooperate with our Government," he said.

"We should do what's best for us. We should also continue praying and believing in the Lord. Let's us all draw strength and hope from Him. We'll get past his challenge, my fellow men. Let's believe."

The Philippines Department of Heath's official coronavirus tally stands at 803 patients and 54 casualties. There have also been 31 recoveries.

The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. The majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, and those with more severe illness might take three to six weeks to recover.