The Department of Health apologized Thursday for the confusion caused by Secretary Francisco Duque III’s announcement that the country is already experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Special Assistant to the Health Secretary Beverly Ho confirmed in an online briefing that the Philippines is still in the first wave of the outbreak, as earlier clarified by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
“The DOH confirms that yes, we are in the first wave driven by local community transmission,” Ho said.
The agency confirmed local transmission of the coronavirus disease in March, when Filipinos who had no history of exposure to known COVID-19 cases and no recent travel history abroad, were diagnosed with the viral illness.
“We are still in this wave,” Ho said, adding that the country reached the peak on March 31, when the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped by 538.
Since then, the daily increase in infections averaged at around 220 and “this is the reason why we are saying that we have started to flatten the curve,” Ho added.
“We apologize for the confusion that this has caused. But we hope that this does not in anyway distract us from what we really need to do to change the course of this pandemic,” Ho said, referring to social distancing and other necessary measures to prevent further spread of the virus.
In an earlier virtual hearing of the House of Representatives, Duque explained his use of the term “second wave” and said the country is at the “first major wave of sustained community transmission.”
“My statement was a casual expression of an epidemiologic fact because the first wave… that indeed there was a first wave but very small which consist of three imported cases in January,” he said.
“In the epidemiological sense, cases that show a rise or a crest and then a decrease or trough constitutes a wave, although a very small wave. And we have nothing for February and this was followed by a bigger wave which we now consider first major wave of community transmission,” he said.
Roque, however, said that based on his consultation with health experts, three cases are too few to be considered a wave. Roque is also spokesperson of the government’s COVID-19 task force.
The number of coronavirus cases nationwide rose to 13,434 on Thursday with 3,000 recoveries and 846 deaths.