Duque: PH in ‘first major wave of sustained COVID-19 transmission’
MANILA, Philippines — Saying that the Philippines is in the “first major wave of sustained transmission,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday clarified that his remark regarding the Philippines being in the second wave of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission was only a “casual expression of an epidemiologic fact.”
During the House committee on health’s online meeting, Duque was asked why he only recently announced that the country is already in the second wave of transmission as early as February.
Duque said that in an epidemiological sense, there was indeed a first wave that happened in January.
A “bigger wave” was later recorded after having no cases in February, said Duque.
“My statement was a casual expression of an epidemiologic fact because the first wave, which can, of course, be validated by Dr. John Wong, that indeed there was the first wave but very small which consisted of just three imported cases in January,” Duque explained.
“In the epidemiological sense, cases that show arise or a crest and a decrease or a trough constitute a wave, although very, very small wave. Then we had nothing for February, and then this was followed by a bigger wave which is now what we consider the first major wave of sustained community transmission,” the health secretary added.
Duque added: “Either way, it can be easily construed that what where we are today is the first major wave of sustained transmission.”
Wong, the founder of health research institution Epimetrics Inc. and a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ subtechnical working group on data analytics, echoed Duque and said that the country is in the “first wave of sustained community transmission.”
“What we have now, starting from March until now, is the first wave of sustained community transmission,” Wong said.
“The cases in January, February, those were our first cases of imported transmission,” he added.
The health secretary clarified after lawmakers disputed and denounced the health secretary’s “premature” remark during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.
Malacañang has apologized to the public for the confusion and alarm caused by the Duque’s pronouncement while insisting that the country is still in the first wave of the pandemic.
As of May 21, there are 13,434 COVID-19 cases in the country, with the death toll at 846 and recoveries at 3,000.
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