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Philippines in ‘second wave of pandemic’

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A health worker disinfects a swabbing booth inside a COVID-19 mass testing centre in Quezon City, the Philippines, on April 14. Xinhua

MANILA (Manila Times) –Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd admitted on Wednesday that the Philippines was now experiencing its second wave of coronavirus infection.

He made the disclosure when asked by Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr on the government’s plan should a second wave hit the Philippines.

We are in the second wave. According to our veteran epidemiologist, the first wave happened sometime in January,” Duque said, referring to the period when the country reported its first three virus cases involving three Chinese from Wuhan.

The Health chief assured the 24-member Senate, meeting on its second day as Committee of the Whole via teleconferencing, that the government was doing everything to flatten the curve.

“Now that we are already in the second wave, we are doing everything to flatten the epidemic curve so that we can have the time to further upgrade our healthcare system,” Duque said.

Epidemiologist John Wong said the country had a “small wave” in January.

“Like the waves of an ocean, there’s a peak and then there’s a trough. For COVID-19, a small wave in January, then a lull, then we had our second wave, first medium wave of more than 10,000,” he said.

However, Malacanang Palace executive secretary Salvador Medialdea said the country is not on the second wave of the coronavirus disease.

In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the Balik-Probinsiya Program, Medialdea disputed Duque’s statement.

“You know, that is not the President’s pronouncement. When did the second wave start? That we will have to see,” Medialdea said.

“As far as I know, there is no second wave,” he added.

But Medialdea said the public should not think that a second wave could not take place in the country after quarantine protocols have been eased.

“Let’s not expect or wait for it. It will be difficult for us,” the palace official said.

The total number of coronavirus cases breached 13,000 on Wednesday as the country reported 279 new cases. The death tally was 842.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan commented that the Philippine death rate is three to four times higher than Malaysia’s, Taiwan’s and Thailand’s.

“You have to forgive us if we doubt there is a flattening of the curve and if we are already on the second wave,” Pangilinan told Duque.

Vivencio “Vince” Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the country had a testing backlog of 6,500.

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