The Philippines is still on its first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s Department of Health clarified on Thursday, May 21.
This comes after Health Secretary Francisco Duque previously issued a statement that the country was already on its second surge of the virus.
“Earlier presidential spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that we are still in the first wave of the epidemic. The DOH confirms that yes we are on the first wave driven by a local community transmission,” said Assistant to the Health Secretary Beverly Ho during the DOH’s online press conference on Thursday.
“We apologize for the confusion that this has caused but we hope that this does not in any way distract us from what we really need to do to change the course of this pandemic,” she added.
Duque on Wednesday, May 20, stated that the country is now experiencing the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, citing the findings of epidemiologist Dr. John Wong and other experts.
“There was a very small wave last few days of January, and then there was a lull, and then we had our second wave, which is the first major wave, which is more than 10,000 cases. We are now in the trough of the lower part of the second wave,” he said.
A day later, he recanted his statement, saying that it was a “casual expression of an epidemiological fact.”
“Because the first wave was in January, but only three cases. In that epidemiological sense, cases that show a rise or a crest and then a decrease constitute a wave, although a small wave,” Duque explained.
“Then we have nothing for February. Then this was followed by a bigger wave which is now what we consider as the first major wave of sustained transmission. Either way, it can be easily construed that where we are today is really the first major wave,” he added.
Malacañang, for its part, refuted Duque’s earlier proclamation, but also defended him by saying the health chief only had a different interpretation of the data.
As of writing, there are a total of 13,434 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 846 fatalities and 3,000 recoveries.